Montella has talked for some time about getting 90 minutes out of our boys, and yet he really hasn’t ever quite gotten it. More specifically, when rotations are made, we tend to be caught off guard. And such was the case today as Napoli went up 2-0 within the first ten minutes of the match. It seemed as if our boys were literally asleep, and couldn’t seem to wake up. For fans, of course, it was our worst nightmare. Luckily, eventually they did wake up, but not before losing the game for having been caught sleeping.
|At least someone was awake|
In the sixth minute, Insigne scored. 1-0 Napoli. Then in the ninth minute, Callejon scored. 2-0 Napoli. Finding no resistance in the midfield and a completely defense-free final third of the pitch, it was just too easy. And those weren’t the only times that Donnarumma was left stranded, either. He really had to step it up for this one, and had more than one amazing save one on one with Napoli’s attackers.
Next came the parade of yellow cards. Eight cards in all, I believe that is a minimum number for Signore Rocchi. He handed out cards for simulation, for dissent, and for just about everything in the book. If only he could have handed out cards for sleeping, maybe our boys would have woken up sooner and taken control of the match.
|Look who jumped out of bed and hit the ground running... thank you, Kuco!|
Kuco scored in the 37th to make it 2-1 Napoli. That was a bit of a catalyst, kind of like when the alarm goes off, but you’re still lying in bed. Whatever Montella said at the half, though, was like a cold shower with a few espressos and some slaps across the face. They came out after halftime on fire. In fact, had they been playing a lesser team, I am certain we would have won with a half like that. But the problem is it was Napoli, and we needed two halves like that to take the three points. At least we didn't let them score four this time.
Donnarumma was beyond essential in this match. In addition to his heart stopping one on one saves on the likes of Insigne and Mertens, he kept us in the game to the very end. In fact, in the final minute, he came down to help out and sent in a header that unfortunately was right at Reina. But seriously, does he have to do everything? He’s not even 18 yet. I know we desperately missed Locatelli and Romagnoli this time, but we've also got to be able to use our bench, too. We can't have this much disparity between our starters and our bench players.
|This might just be putting too much pressure on the kid. And we have 10 outfield players to score, too.|
One stat that is of some consolation is possession: Milan had 57% possession. Now we just need to learn what to do with it. That and accuracy. We took 13 shots, but only four were on goal. Napoli only took nine shots, but five of those were on goal. This has really been killing us. I discussed the need for more goals on the last podcast, but this is one of the biggest things that is handicapping us. We are no longer at a loss for shot attempts, now we need to focus on converting those attempts. Because unfortunately, goals win games.
If goalkeepers won games, then our literal boy from the Napoli area would win every game for us. As it is, he keeps us in every game, gives us a fighting chance. But when we start out a game so lethargic and running as if we are underwater, we are going to concede goals instead. It’s not enough to have a lot of possession, we need to run for 90 minutes and shoot more accurately, too. Otherwise we will fall prey every time to a team who comes out of the gate running. And we’ll pay the price if we continue to play any of those 90 minutes caught sleeping.
This post inspired by the music of The Cure’s “Lullaby”
Our next match is
Coppa Italia QuarterFinals
Juventus vs. Milan
Wendesday, January 25 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)