Milan 3, Empoli 0: Remembering

This could have easily been a match to forget, certainly in the first half, Milan seemed to want to make it that way. But instead, with a renewed effort in the second half, this match became one of remembering. Milan remembered their ghosts, of playing poorly against a relegation-threatened team. Then Milan remembered their heritage, one of winning every game, regardless of the opposition. They remembered that they are in fourth place, and what they needed to do to stay there. And in remembering, they won, helping the fans remember the joy of supporting Milan.

Starting to win

Paqueta thought he had opened up the scoring in the tenth minute with a nice assist from Rodriguez, even doing a celebratory dance before Giacomelli remembered he could use VAR to review the play. Turns out, there were three or maybe even four Milan attackers offside, all in a line, and the goal was called back. In the 19th, Piatek and two defenders crumpled in the box. Had that been reviewed by VAR, I suppose it may have been a penalty. But Giacomelli forgot about the VAR that time. Perhaps he knew Piatek was more than capable of scoring without the help of VAR.

Why did it take VAR to see this?

Castillejo, deputizing for the suspended Suso, put in a man of the match performance. His brilliant shot in the 22nd forced Dragowski into an equally brilliant save. He put the Polish keeper to work again just four minutes later, Castillejo’s shot just tipped over in time. But there wasn’t much else to remember about the first half. Milan were flat and a little disjointed, a distant memory of the team that clawed their way to fourth and have held on tight since arriving there.


I have no idea what Gattuso said at halftime, but he certainly didn’t sing the guys a lullaby. In the second half, it was if they suddenly remembered what it was to wear the Milan crest. In the 49th minute, Kessie sent a nice ball into Calhanoglu, who crossed it perfectly for the imminently arriving Piatek. That very rarely fails, and Piatek’s goal was lethal, 1-0 Milan.

Just two minutes later, Kessie decided to continue the pain for Empoli with a great goal and a nice assist from Castillejo. 2-0 Milan. Despite the unfashionable Iachini making two changes in the 66th, Castillejo took a nice cross from Conti only one minute later and scored a goal for himself as well. 3-0 Milan.

Franckenstein is the monster

Normally when Gattuso subs on Borini for Paqueta, I have mild seizures. It’s like substituting dirt for chocolate. But when Milan are up 3-0 against Empoli and playing well, it doesn’t really matter, a little dirt won’t hurt. But this sub was significant because in the 78th minute, Borini, channeling his inner Messi, powered through a small army of Empoli defenders and scored what appeared to be Milan’s fourth (fifth) goal. However, with a lengthy time to remember to review VAR, that goal was called off, seemingly for Cutrone’s positioning. Or maybe it was just because no one would believe Borini had actually scored that goal, I’m not really clear on all of the nuances of VAR. Borini tried once more to create a wondergoal in the 90th+1, but skied it so badly, he’s probably hoping we’ll all just forget that he’s Borini.

This match could have been a disaster, but Milan turned it around. Gattuso remembered that Conti exists, and Conti proved he hasn’t forgotten how to be brilliant. So now Gattuso will have headaches over who to choose for that spot, Calabria or Conti, and that is actually not a bad problem to have. Biglia also got about ten minutes, which seemed to come just in time, as Bakayoko really took a beating in this match.

Welcome back, Conti

All of the hype seems to be on Piatek, but the point that is most worth remembering is that Milan have now scored three or more goals in three consecutive Serie A games for the first time since 2012. And, we have kept a clean sheet for three matches in a row for the first time since 2014. Those stats show that Milan are remembering. They are finally remembering the greatness associated with our club. They are remembering how to stay focused and not collapse mentally anymore, to not play down to clubs they should be dominating. They are remembering to have fun, play as a team, and make the fans happy. And in remembering those things, they are also remembering how to win.

This post inspired by the music of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”

Our next match is
Coppa Italia Semifinal, 1st Leg
Lazio vs. Milan
Tuesday, February 26 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)

Milan 3, Empoli 0: Remembering Milan 3, Empoli 0: Remembering Reviewed by Elaine on 10:35 AM Rating: 5
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