Milan 2, Bologna 1: Winter Renewal

It was simply magical. Gattuso, atoning for the sins of himself and Montella, humbly switched formations to the 4-3-3. And Milan was richly rewarded. Instead of the stale, increasingly less offensive game that cost Montella his job, or the dead, incredibly defensive way Gattuso had the team play in his first two matches in charge, we finally saw signs of life again in a team many had left for dead. With a massive 21 shots, seven on target, poor Bologna didn’t stand a chance. And when the snow started falling at halftime, it was as if the whole night were a winter renewal.

Ending a home scoring drought that was incomprehensible was magic in and of itself

The four man backline worked like a snow plow – instead of a broken down Fiat, left stranded on the roadside, they were strong and worked together to push all of the "snow" toward goal. That had a snowball effect, because our midfield were then free to play more offensively, and our attackers had every opportunity to hurl "snowball" after "snowball" at poor Mirante. Because when your defense is solid and confident, everything clicks into place and the offense suddenly has powers we haven’t seen all frustrating three-man backline season long. Of course, it also helped that Borini and Suso were played at their natural positions, amongst others. Truly, I have no idea why Montella ever went away from this formation. It fit this squad like a glove.

It was a midfielder, Bonaventura, who took full advantage of the tactical changes. His goal in the 10th minute had Gattuso a little choked up, I think, and their double fist bump afterwards cleared away some of the painful scars Milan had inflicted recently. 1-0 Milan. Despite Milan’s domination and countless shots, our joy was short lived when ex-Milan youth player Simone Verdi scored in the 23rd. 1-1 all. Of course, it was also ex-Milan Destro who dribbled around Musacchio to send that ball in, but we knew the ex-Milan threat was real coming into this match.

Yeah, it feels kind of like that

The hope and freedom of the new/old formation gave way to chance after chance for Milan, with everyone spreading the love around. But that was not all. Montolivo, for example had a really good game, with a great stop in the 20th that Bonucci then cleared, great teamwork. And Bonucci’s hug and praise following made us forget that Bonucci had been the one to take Montolivo’s armband – there was no rivalry, just teammates, and it was amazing to see.

With the onset of the magical winter snow and the Curva singing for Donadoni, the sense was that this would be a victory, despite the score showing a tie late into the second half. So to fulfill the dream, in the 76th, Borini sent a ball forward that Bonaventura spectacularly and powerfully headed in past Mirante. 2-1 Milan. The joy was palpable, and it was enough to forget the recent suffering at the hands of our team.

These are the emotional scenes we wanted to share with Gattuso

This was not a Champions League level match. Bologna played well enough, but have probably played better. And Milan have played better, too. But not recently. The confidence, the teamwork, and the most successful system we’ve used this season all contributed to the fantastic win. It’s not like they will win every match playing like this, but it was a start back to where we want to be. With the beautiful snowfall and 40,000 fans at the San Siro offering even more magic, it was a joy to watch, a winter renewal.

This post inspired by the music of Panic at the Disco’s “Victorious”

Our next match is
Coppa Italia Round of 16
AC Milan vs. Hellas Verona
Wednesday, December 13 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 2, Bologna 1: Winter Renewal Milan 2, Bologna 1: Winter Renewal Reviewed by Elaine on 11:47 PM Rating: 5
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