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Europa League • Milan 1, Ludogorets 0: The Borini Factor

Milan were warned about Ludogorets. They have won the Bulgarian League for six years straight, have competed in Europe all of those years consecutively, too, and were an adversary not to be underestimated. Milan are in our sixth consecutive Year Zero with an ownership change less than a year ago, too. Despite our elite European history, it’s hard to say that Ludogorets were truly an underdog given all of the turmoil at Milan. But it seems we all overlooked the Borini Factor™.

Inspiration for underperforming strikers everywhere

Last week, Ludogorets learned painfully “Don’t mess with Borini.” But they weren’t able to come up with an antidote for his sheer fitness levels in the space of seven days. And so, in the 21st, Locatelli set the ball in motion for a nice Cutrone cross, and the most fit Milan player in years did not mess around. Borini brought the knives out and his shot cut past the keeper to make it 1-0 Milan. And that’s all it took. His second goal in as many games vs. Ludogorets made it 4-0 on aggregate, and that meant the Bulgarians would be going home to destroy some more Bulgarian teams. But, thanks to Borini, no more Europe for them this year.

This Borini goal also exceeded Mr. Fitness’ average goal quota of three goals per year. He now has three in Europa League and qualification, as well as one in Serie A. Four goals. Which is as many as our most played striker, Kalinic, who cost over ten times as much. I was laughing along with everyone else when Mirabelli and Fassone were patting themselves on the back for signing such an important player as Fabio Borini, but they are the only ones laughing now. The Borini Factor™ has proven that no matter what you pay for a player, it’s hard work and determination that produce success.

Do all keepers named Donnarumma fly?

Back to this game, though, it was apparently a massive celebration in that it was Montolivo’s 150th appearance for Milan. Most players mark milestones by the hundreds, but apparently, he gets to mark them by the fifties. And the most memorable moment of his match was the closeup of his snot rocket in the 13th. Well done, ex captain. Well done.

Another milestone was the “I’m still here” moment for José Mauri, who replaced Kessie in the 56th. It’s good that he hadn’t played in so long, because in the 79th minute, he produced a tackle that could have been a yellow, but the ref either took pity on him or just couldn’t figure out who he was, so did not card him. He did, however, card Bonucci in the 86th, who had come off the bench and therefore had to apply the same amount of awesomeness he usually spreads over 90 minutes into a single tackle.

He DOES exist!

This wasn’t a memorable game, it wasn’t even good football. Milan had the same amount of shots on target as Ludogorets (two,) and actually only 47% possession. But even if it was an ugly win, a number of players got some playing time in, and that also let a number of players also get some rest ahead of Sunday’s clash in Rome. An ugly win is still a win, and the record books will still show a 4-0 aggregate win to progress to the round of 16, no one will remember the performances. Well except Borini’s, of course, he’s unforgettable. We will learn shortly who our next European opponents will be. But in the meantime, all of them must be fearing The Borini Factor™.

This post inspired by the music of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Mack the Knife”

Stay tuned for the results of the Europa League Round of 16 draw

Our next match is
Serie A Week 26
Roma vs. Milan
Sunday, February 25 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)