Olympiacos 3, Milan 1: On Empty

I asked a simple question in my preview: Do you want it bad enough? And at the whistle, the answer was no, not quite. Amidst a hostile environment, our boys simply didn’t do enough to get through, even though all we had to do was lose by only one goal or better. The next round was in our hands, and we let Olympiacos take it from us. For that alone, they deserve to go through and Milan deserve to go home, despite having had to work so hard off the pitch to get here. But I don’t have a lot of criticism for the team, as we are still injury ravaged. And as for our grinta, we’ve seen it sputtering a lot lately. Maybe tonight in Athens, their tank was just on empty.

Has his time also run out?

Milan were favored to win this match on paper, but Olympiacos leveled the playing field and managed to grab the edge enough to send us home. They managed 52% possession and took 18 shots with nine on goal, while Milan also took 18 shots, but with eight on goal. Clearly our finishing was poor to not take advantage of more of those opportunities. There were eight cards, four for each side, and a number of calls that might have gone a different way for either side if VAR was used. But I don’t think that was a gamechanger, as Milan simply continued Serie A’s week of shame in Europe.

Olympiacos fans were out in full force. As expected, the stadium was incredibly loud, and they had this obnoxiously loud flute or whistle sound they used whenever Milan were in attack. They lit flares and even threw them behind the goal near the end, and the fans invaded the pitch at the end of the match. But the one thing I hope they are sanctioned for is when someone threw extra balls on the pitch while Milan were in attack. That’s a Frosinone move right there, and if the FIGC isn’t man enough to punish it properly, then UEFA needs to set the example.

There was plenty of "love" throughout the match, Bastien was busy

The action started in the first minute when Reina was forced to come out of his box to block Guerrero, and it kept going until the final whistle blew. No one can say the match was boring. Except for the parts where Milan did everything they could in the first half to waste time, with Reina finally getting carded for it in the 54th. That alone was poor from Milan. Just because we could go through without a goal doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to score or even win. I don’t know if that attitude came from entitlement or fatigue or all of our injuries or all of the above, but it absolutely contributed to us being eliminated.

After the first nailbiting half, Olympiacos came out on the pitch a bit late. Again, not expecting UEFA sanctions, but it is an offense that can be punished. The game became real in the 60th minute, when Cisse scored a goal. 1-0 Olympiacos. The odd thing is that it appeared he scored off of an Higuain handball, but there was no VAR, and that would have given them a penalty anyway. After making some great clearances, like in the 64th, Zapata stuck out his leg to try to block a shot and ended up deflecting it into our own net. 2-0 Olympiacos. That was the Zapata we’ve been waiting to show up again. But what we didn’t expect was that about a minute later, he would have the guts to score in the proper net, too. 2-1 Olympiacos. He literally appeared to score the goal with his stomach.

Zero to hero, but Musacchio stayed on the bench

Now the game was desperate. Had Milan kept this score, we would have gone through. But Olympiacos had a little taste of moving on, because at 2-0, they would be through. And especially with their depraved fans behind them, it became an even more intense battle. A battle that was settled by a hug. In the 80th, Abate held Torosidis in the box. And Bastien, the ref, saw it and called it a penalty. I heard a lot of people say it was a soft penalty, and maybe in Serie A it would be. But it was a fair penalty to give, and unfortunately very fair that Fortounis converted it a minute later. 3-1 Olympiacos.

Gattuso did make one sub after that, bringing on Halilovic for Rodriguez, trying to get another goal. This after having taken off Cutrone in the 78th for Laxalt, which will never make sense to me. Kind of like how Zapata’s goal basically made up for his own goal, Gattuso’s second sub was trying to make up for his first. But it didn’t. Nor did he use a third sub in a game where it was all or nothing. Two of the three goals were directly caused by our marauding center backs, but he kept Musacchio on the bench after both goals. I am really beginning to wonder if he slept through the substituting portion of his coaching classes. There were so many opportunities to use all three subs, and it’s really difficult not to wonder if we would have gone through with just one simple change like that.

Begging never changed any ref's call

At the end of the day, Olympiacos did what they needed to in order to advance. And Milan did not. Nor did we win all of our matches to ensure being top of the group on matchday six. So even with some sketchy morals from their fans and possibly others, as well as ref calls that were questionable which would have impacted either side, Milan did not do enough tonight or on the previous matchdays to go through to the next round. Which now means fewer matches and hopefully fewer injuries, neither of which I mind at all. But it also raises a frightening point for the rest of our season: are Milan psychologically on empty?

This post inspired by the music of lovelytheband’s “Broken”

Our next match is
Serie A week 16
Bologna vs Milan
Tuesday, December 18 • 20:30 CET (3:30 EST)

Olympiacos 3, Milan 1: On Empty Olympiacos 3, Milan 1: On Empty Reviewed by Elaine on 11:26 PM Rating: 5
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