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Milan 0, Napoli 0: Parallel Universe



This was the kind of game that in recent years would have driven the best of Milan fans into their alcohol-stocked bunkers, just waiting for Napoli’s goal storm to steal all of our hopes and dreams… again. Worse that Carletto, like a loving father who left us for a younger, hotter woman, was in the opposite technical area. But our players decided to step it up when called upon, and this was not the day for the bunkers. Instead, Milan matched second place Napoli pace for pace, shot for shot, and most importantly, save for save. It was almost like some kind of parallel universe.

How many Napoli players does it take to stop Piatek?

The game was intensely open, chances at both ends to the point of needing heart medication. In all, Milan matched Napoli almost exactly: each with 14 shots, with five on goal for Milan and six on goal for Napoli. Once again, Gigio was immense, but Ospina did very well at the other end, too. Paqueta increases in performance and understanding with his teammates with every match that is impossible not to be excited about. He is fast, strong, creative, works very hard, and his positioning and determination are undeniable.

Strange then that once again Gattuso subbed him off for Borini, who is perhaps hardworking, but not really any of those other things. But the sub everyone wanted to see was Piatek coming on for Cutrone. Well, I think we would have rather Piatek come on for Borini, but this isn’t fantasy football. Piatek wa so exciting and immense, and needs no introduction to Serie A. It took both Koulibaly and Ospina’s best efforts to stop him in the 76th, and Ospina took a knock in that effort, too, nearly needing to be subbed off. Then in the 86th, Albiol had to give up a cheap foul and earn himself a yellow just to stop the new Milan forward. Absolutely tantalizing to think what is to come with Piatek in the red and black.

Musacchio had perhaps Milan's best shot on goal, forcing an amazing Ospina save

Sending off Fabian Ruiz was a bit of a shame, really. Most people think, because of ignorant commentators, that if the ball bounces off of another part if the body, it cannot be a handball. But there is nothing in FIFA’s Laws of the Game that says that. It was part of instructions given to Serie A refs a few years back that they should not necessarily consider it a handball if it struck another part of the body. But I understand why Doveri made this call, even if it was perhaps harsh. Because Fabian’s upper body seemed to meet the ball after it hit his thigh. It wasn’t necessarily a wrong call, just sucks that he will miss the next game. I don’t have too much sympathy, considering he was already on a yellow card for an obvious handling of the ball in the first half.

All of our young players keeping pace with some of Serie A's best

To add insult to injury, Papa Ancelotti got himself sent off in stoppage time, less than two minutes after Fabian saw red. He said it was because of a swear word, but it demonstrated the frustration level that he achieved with Milan’s excellent showing. Which is something I haven’t typed in a long time. Not that Milan haven’t had a few good games here and there, but to play so well and keep a clean sheet against the high scoring and second place team is something deliciously unexpected. A draw that was like a win. So when the whistle blew and we earned a point against this very tough team, it was like being in a parallel universe.


This post inspired by the music of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”


Our next match is
Coppa Italia Quarterfinals
Milan vs. Napoli
Tuesday, January 29 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)