This match was hyped to be an important match in the race for Europe. With both teams having a point to prove, there was even more emotion in the air when they took the pitch at the San Siro. Those emotions often took over the rational thought of players and fans alike, much to the chagrin of Valeri and team. But in the end, the grinta that Milan have been surviving on won again, over any kind of good football and against a very worthy opponent. So we are still in seventh place, but now we are four points clear of the Viola in the hunt for Europe. With two goals and despite three center backs, Milan are still dreaming.
|How to Win 101 by Gerard Deulofeu|
You know that saying, “be careful what you ask for?” Fiorentina know it all too well. It is likely the fact that they are in Europe this season that they dropped three points to Milan in their hopes for Europe next season. They were clearly tired from their Thursday Europa League encounter. So much is being made of the sale of the club and the cash infusion for the transfer window, but if we should make Europe this year, spending a lot of cash does not guarantee that we won’t also be tired next year and in the same predicament that Fiorentina now find themselves in. Still, I guess after all of these years without Europe, that might be a good problem for Milan to have.
As for the match itself, it started off strong with shots from both sides. But it was in the 16th minute, from a Sosa free kick, that Kuco headed it in to open up the scoring. 1-0 Milan. In front of the home crowd. That didn’t faze Fiorentina in the least, though. In the 20th, it was a great play from Valero to Chiesa then a great cross in to Kalinic, who tapped it in. 1-1 all. Milan’s defense were on vacation. Well Paletta was standing there with his hand up calling for offside and not doing anything and Gomez was too slow to react.
|Our favorite tank: indestructible, unstoppable, and also good in the air|
But neither Valeri nor his assistant called the offside. And with good reason. Athough a screenshot of the moment Valero sent it forward showed both Chiesa and Kalinic in an offside position, there was no advantage gained. Both moved back behind our defenders before Chiesa sent the cross in. The offside call is not made when someone is in the offside position, but rather when that position offers them an advantage to score. Which it didn’t in this circumstance. That was the first of many times Milan fans’ heads imploded on social media, causing them to whine about the ref like Interisti, though. It got worse when they were whining while we were winning. Seriously?
Fiorentina players were also embarrassing, though. Swarming the ref at every call. It made me very grateful that Milan has generally stopped doing that. (Did Montolivo start that tradition there, too?) They started it in the sixth minute, challenging the free kick given to Sosa, and they kept it up with any call they didn’t like, fair or not. The most blatant one was in the 51st when Gomez fouled Kalinic outside the box and was given a yellow card. That wasn’t enough, they wanted him sent off. Not only do replays show that Kalinic was slightly offside when the ball was kicked forward, but it was not a clear goal scoring opportunity because he didn’t even have possession of the ball at the time of the foul. His distance from goal made it also not a clear chance. But Vecino earned himself a yellow for dissent on that one at least.
|Scores his first Milan goal, thinks only of his sweetheart and unborn child. Character.|
But I digress. Back to the first half. While Kalinic’s goal gave Fiorentina some impetus, Milan managed to hold them back and actually continue to attack a bit. So in the 31st, Kuco the goalscorer managed to win the ball back with his knee and from there, Pasalic took it and sent it forward to Deulofeu, who scored a fantastic goal. 2-1 Milan. His joyful celebration included the thumbsucking one, indicating his child, who is still in utero actually. He later dedicated it to his sweetheart and mother of his future child, this was his debut goal for Milan.
The rest of the match was an intense battle, although not pretty football. There were cards: Vangioni got his in the 45th+1, Gomez’ in the 51st, and finally Suso in the 74th, plus a couple for Fiorentina. Milan weren’t prolific in shooting, with only six shots and four on goal. But that was one of our most clinical games for sure. With only 38% possession, Montella said post match that Milan created more scoring opportunities. I think that he really is too dependent upon Donnarumma, though, because Fiorentina actually took 18 shots with seven on target. Those stats on paper could be deceiving, because on the pitch, Milan was always in the game and it was fair that we won.
|Played his heart out, got no help, then booed by his own fans. At least Fiorentina players were impressed.|
In addition to going the unpopular route and disagreeing with all of social media to say that I think Valeri actually reffed a solid match, I am going to vehemently disagree with popular opinion and say that Bacca had a good game. We talked about this on the last podcast, but Bacca plays best as a lone striker. No surprise that his best opportunities were when Montella and his bizarre defensive subbing parked the bus and played a 9-0-1 formation and Suso or someone sent a long ball up for him. That was still unsuccessful, though, of course, because a lone striker in a field of ten defenders rarely scores. He truly is our best player (a certain goalkeeper aside), and while Montella is getting the best out of many of our players, he would be wise to try some different tactics and see if he can get the best out of all of our players. I mean Bacca was more clinical than both Messi and Ronaldo when he was in La Liga, and was the most clinical striker in Serie A last year, too. Why continue to handicap him? But the worst were the boos for him from Milan fans at the San Siro. Unbelievable. And so very ungrateful. If they cannot remember all that he has given us and how he chose Milan and stayed at Milan time and time again to be part or our rebuilding, they could at least hold their tongues because the man bought the whole team dinner this week.
|Abate surprised even himself with a couple of opportunities in this match|
The win was unexpected and amazing. Historically, a 1-1 draw was the most common between our two clubs. With seven players who started in both matches, Fiorentina had to be exhausted from their Europa League game in Germany on Thursday. But they also have a lot more experience, quality and have been playing together longer than our squad. Once again, it was the grinta and some individual brilliance plus our Tank that earned us the three points. In a game where our dreams of European competition next year could have taken a serious hit, the heart and soul of this unexpectedly successful team gave us three very important points. And that is why Milan fans everywhere are still dreaming.
This post inspired by the music of Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” featuring John Legend
Our next match is
Sassuolo vs. Milan
Sunday, February 26 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)