Napoli 3, Milan 2: Cauldron of Regrets

Since the draw was made and we saw our trip to Napoli week two, those amongst us with reasoning skills were able to deduce that this game would not be our finest hour. Then with the schedule change and it being made our first game of the season instead, the same numbers of us knew it could be a devastating way to start our season. But aside from some regrets (I will not type Biglia’s name here, I will not type Biglia’s name here…) it actually proved to meet or exceed expectations. Especially in that part in the early second half where we were up 2-0 due to two brilliant and most unexpected goals. What I wouldn’t give for that to have been the final score. But it wasn’t to be, nor was even a single point for those great goals. So we walk away from the cauldron of regrets.

Something to smile about

I previewed this match as the “Cauldron of Heartache,” profiling the Ancelotti emotional storyline with serious trepidation. It turns out, it wasn’t so bad, especially watching him when we were two-nil up, that was easy. It also turns out that Gattuso’s conservative lineup of Higuain and ten players from last year was much more difficult to watch. Gigio was easy to watch for the most part, saving five of Napoli’s eight shots on goal, with their very much not clinical 24 shots total. Of course that very much not clinical piece helped a lot. But to be fair, Ospina had zero saves, letting in both of Milan’s only two shots on goal with only eight total attempts.

Borini had his moment in the sun early on in the 15th minute when he headed down a Calabria cross which Bonaventura then stunningly volleyed in for Milan’s first goal. 1-0 Milan. I don’t know who was more shocked, Napoli or Milan, to be honest. But unfortunately, Borini’s limitations settled in after that and it was almost as if we only had ten men. (Or nine men and Biglia.) And other than Suso and Insigne fighting for no apparent reason in the 30th (I still think Suso must have made a short joke, you know how defensive short people are,) the first half was very choppy and rough. I was amazed at how Milan managed to keep themselves in the game despite some very questionable defensive lapses.

That is where all of Borini's energy went... in the celebration

The second half started off like a dream with a Calabria goal in the 49th minute. 2-0 Milan. Again, it came out of practically nowhere, considering that once again, Milan struggled to create plays or even pass well. Suso’s cheeky little assist as he went down was also impressive.  But that unfortunately was all it took to awake the sleeping giant. Between Napoli taking it up a notch and Milan losing steam faster than a busted radiator, Napoli answered back with an attack one minute later, albeit offside, then a Zielinski goal in the 53rd from a ball that was gifted him by the defensively-challenged Biglia. 2-1 Milan.

After being pressed back harder, Gattuso relieved Biglia of his duties to bring on Bakayoko, who unfortunately was also as defensively challenged as Biglia. Having written about the lack of proper reinforcement at this spot even before the mercato closed, it was very painful to see it punch us right in the face in our first big test of the season. Especially since Musacchio is our best Bonucci replacement at this time, and was by far the weakest link in defense. It was like an open invitation to score, which Zielinski accepted again in the 67th, 2-2.

United in success and defeat

Bless Gattuso for making reactionary substitutions, he pulled off the impotent Borini and brought on Laxalt in the 70th minute, who at least seemed to have more life in him, even if he was also new to the Milan setup. Ancelotti mercifully pulled Zielinski off in the 72nd, after he had replaced Hamsik with the tiny wonder, Mertens in the 63rd. That turned out to be the dealbreaker, when he capitalized on multiple Milan defensive errors to score the winner in the 80th minute. 3-2 Napoli. And despite Gattuso reacting again and bringing on the Cutrone in the 81st, Milan were too tired, and too self-defeated to allow him any opportunities. Just so many regrets.

I feel like when Gattuso shows them the tape, every player will cringe with regrets at one point or another, even the ones who didn’t play. And yes, even the goalscorers. Like Bonaventura’s deflection on the one goal, Calabria unable to close down Mertens for the last goal… there were mistakes everywhere, and so many regrets.

Two goals seemed to make it easier to see Ancelotti on the other side

But honestly, they exceeded my expectations for this match. Between opening match nerves, our young team, being away to a team we’ve not beaten in their house in 8 years, having finished almost 30 points behind them last season, and more, we were the serious underdogs. We did not deserve to be up 2-0 in the 49th minute, but somehow, we were. And they were beautiful goals, too. Napoli were able to overcome the surprise deficit and fight their way back, but we made them fight for it, despite myriad mistakes. I loved the mentality we showed to just keep fighting, even when we were running out of steam and leaking balls everywhere. And I know that with that spark, as well as with the painful regrets of this match, they will come back fighting on Friday and for the rest of the season. Look at Kessie playing back so deep so often to help with the defense. Bonaventura, too. They are a team, even if they are still very rough, and there is a quality to them that we only saw developing last year. I am not losing sleep over this one, even if for the players, it was probably a bit like the cauldron of regrets.

This post inspired by the music of New Order’s “Regret”

Our next match is
Serie A Week 3
Milan vs. Roma
Friday, August 31 • 20:30 CEST (2:30pm EDT)

Napoli 3, Milan 2: Cauldron of Regrets Napoli 3, Milan 2: Cauldron of Regrets Reviewed by Elaine on 6:01 PM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.