Some matches are won by playing well for 90 minutes. And then there was this one. Our mentality has won all of these matches, but it’s shown weaknesses lately, signs of slipping back into old habits. Like conceding immediately after scoring, for example. But that's not the only mentality issue we saw in this game. If you’ll remember, Montella came in saying that a manager didn’t need to get angry, but he changed his tune at halftime to produce the needed reaction. So a win by any means necessary.
|Some victories are harder fought than others|
The match started with Romagnoli earning himself a ridiculous yellow in the 4th minute. Things went from bad to worse when Mati Fernandez’s starting debut was halted due to a muscle injury, causing him to be subbed off in the 10th minute for Kucka. If you saw his face, you’ll know the heartbreak of being injured again was possibly more painful than the injury itself. But luckily, to cheer him up, Lapadula scored a nice goal just five minutes later from a lovely Suso assist. 1-0 Milan. Well at least it cheered me up.
However, just two minutes later I was not happy at all. Saponara capitalized on a rare Donnarumma error, and suddenly it was level, 1-1. And yeah, it had to be Saponara, doubling his goal tally for the year at our expense. Ouch. And so the rest of the first half was pretty terrible, notable mainly for Kucka getting a yellow in the 31st and Bonaventura getting one in the 43rd.
|This man cannot stop scoring or giving assists|
But then it was time for Montella to get mad. And after his halftime tirade, we saw a different team come out wearing the white kits. So Suso made it 2-1 in the 61st. Then Bonaventura dribbled past half of the Empoli squad and forced Andrea Costa to score an own goal in the 64th. Sucks to be him. Now it was an insurmountable lead, 3-1, and even more disheartened by the own goal, Empoli lost a lot of fight. Which made it possible for Lapadula to score his second of the night in the 77th, 4-1 Milan. Worrying, though, that Bonaventura also picked up a muscle injury in the final minutes of the game. Hope he and Mati are okay.
So Milan’s most important skill right now is winning by any means necessary. Montella wanted a possession based team, yet he’s not gotten it, and seems to have given up talking about it. This game was our most dominant, with 61% possession against a relegation threatened team. He said anger was not the answer to get results, and yet tonight it was. And even with a team that was the youngest Milan has fielded since the 1985-86 season, making young kinds of errors, they found a way to pull it off and get the three points, putting us temporarily in second place. Second place. Who would have thought at the beginning of the year?
|One scored a brace, the other forced an own goal. Take a bow indeed.|
Abate pointed out after the match that these are the kinds of games they used to lose. And it’s true. That mentality, the belief that they can win pretty much any game, has allowed them to do just that. So next week when we host absolute bottom of the table Crotone, we have actual reason to believe that we will take another three points from them. Because it may not be pretty, and we may have growing injury problems again, but the one thing Milan have learned this season is to get the job done by any means necessary.
This post inspired by the music of the Moana Motion Picture Soundtrack
Our next match is
Milan vs. Crotone
Sunday, December 4th • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)