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F91 Dudelange 0, Milan 1: Football Royalty



Near the beginning of the second half, my commentator referred to Milan as “football royalty.” But the only royalty from Milan were in the stands or on the sideline in the likes of Maldini, Leonardo, and Gattuso. That last guy only brought 19 players to Luxembourg, and only started two starters in an eleven that would never be called royalty. They were absolutely woeful, and lucky to score the goal. But Dudelange were the first team from Luxembourg to ever play in the Europa League Group stage. And for that alone, tonight they were football royalty.

Thank goodness someone can score

When I saw the squad Gattuso was traveling with, I didn’t expect much, honestly. I find it weird about how he goes on and on about how much team spirit these guys have and how solid the squad is, then he left eleven players at home. They didn’t get to support their teammates, they didn’t get to celebrate with their teammates. Just stayed home to train. I wonder how much of a “team” they feel like now.

Also strange that Gattuso talked so much about respecting Dudelange, but started only Higuain and Romagnoli of our typical starting eleven. I’m all about squad rotation, but that was like changing your good tires for last year’s old tires and expecting the same driving experience. And our experience was nothing like what we are used to.

Acceptable

Higuain and Romagnoli were phenomenal, of course. But they were only two players and could only do so much on their own. Reina did well enough, of course, with Dudelange’s singular shot on goal. Jose Mauri had a good performance. If he was consistent, I could see him playing a little more often. Caldara didn’t wow me, but he also didn’t disappoint, so I will not show him my wrath. Abate was solid, but faded by the end, he’s simply not getting any younger.

Both Laxalt and Castillejo are very fast, their speed is impressive. But when they get anywhere near the box, they lose the ball, shoot wildly, or send in crosses for the neighborhood deli or something. Castillejo is especially woeful at his delivery, why he was taking set pieces was beyond me. Ironic, then, that he sent in one good cross to Higuain in the 59th, and Higuain scored the singular goal with that cross. 1-0 Milan.

I'm not convinced, despite the assist

Plenty of people were liking how Castillejo got forward. That is great. But once he was forward, it was not great. He is dispossessed so easily, it’s impressive. He’s like the track star who got so fast because he was always being chased for his lunch money. Only tonight, he got to keep his lunch money… once. The rest of the time it was dreadful. Bakayoko is similar, he loses the ball too much. But he’s a bit stronger and he moves more tactically. I’m still not convinced I’d want him to start.

None of them are nearly as dreadful as Borini. Why Fassone & Mirabelli’s wet dream is still at Milan at all, let alone given a chance to start is completely beyond me. The same applies to Bertolacci, but I know who is to blame for that: Gattuso. And I’m not going to forget that, either. His singular contribution to the game was complaining for being fouled in the 52nd minute, as usual. He was the first to be subbed, and bringing Kessie on for him was like being given a Ferrari to drive when you are used to riding a tricycle. The difference was immediate, after having an okay Mauri as our midfield all night, immediately, Kessie was three times as good as our three midfielders.

What are you celebrating for, Bertolacci? You're like Dudelange's 12th man

And as well as Mauri did, when Calhanoglu came on for him, it was like the professional footballer came to play with the kids. He threaded through a gorgeous pass to Higuain almost immediately, who forced Frising into another great save. Gattuso’s last sub was Halilovic for Borini. In the five minutes or so that the adorable little Croatian got, he showed a couple of sparks, including a shot that was blocked by the defense, but five minutes is an insult to everyone. Both Abate and Romagnoli earned yellow cards, which I suppose we might have to worry about if we get past the group stage. And also if Gattuso doesn’t ask for a new deck of cards for each match.

Please make it stop

There were almost 8,000 spectators on hand to watch history be made in Luxembourg. And no, I’m not talking about Borini playing for 87 minutes without being laughed at and mocked hysterically. I mean that Dudelange were making history in the Europa League. And at the whistle, Toppmöller and his staff were almost as happy as if they had won. And why shouldn’t they be? Dudelange just held Milan, the seven-time Champions League winners, to a single goal win. They probably didn’t care that Gattuso played the speedy towel boys. For this night, they could celebrate the first Europa League group stage match in all of Luxembourg. And that alone makes them football royalty.


This post inspired by the music of XTC’s “King For a Day”


Our next match is
Serie A Week 5
Milan vs. Atalanta
Sunday, September 23 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)