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Milan 1, Udinese 1: Bring Out Your Dead



Six weeks ago, Milan fans would have assumed that three points against a struggling Udinese were a foregone conclusion. Especially at a San Siro filled with nearly 50,000 fans. But over the break, Udinese brought in the pinch-hitting Igor Tudor, the coach that saved them from relegation at the end of last season. And Milan suffered two painful losses in a row, as well as a new crop of injuries, even before kickoff. So now we’re all miserably lamenting a single point in three matches and licking our wounds as well. Might as well send out the wagons and say “Bring out your dead!”

Still standing, gratefully

In the fifth minute of this match, Gigio Donnarumma pulled up with a muscular injury. After some treatment and attempting to play on, he was subbed off in the eleventh minute for Pepe Reina. Despite Gattuso’s exciting new 4-3-1-2 formation, that set an ominous tone for the match.

In spite of losing our number one keeper, though, Milan started building attack after attack. Great plays and shots by Paqueta, Calhanoglu, and Cutrone tested Musso throughout the first half. In the midst of all of that, Paqueta rolled his ankle badly, requiring treatment and eventually being subbed off for Castillejo in the 41st. That didn’t seem to disrupt everyone’s favorite new strike partnership, and Cutrone sent the ball in to Piatek in the 44 th. Piatek’s first shot was parried by Musso, but his follow up hit the back of the net without question, 1-0 Milan. Pum pum pum.

Simply unstoppable

I don’t know what Gattuso said at the half or how much the two big injuries impacted a team where Kessie, Conti and Suso were already injured ahead of the match, but the second half seemed to be met with complacency by Milan. Udinese were opportunistic, and although Milan eventually registered 18 shots, with only six on goal, Udinese only needed to take seven shots with two on goal to take points from Milan.

Of course, it was Lasagna who scored the equalizer in the 64th. 1-1 all. I do take partial responsibility for this, having mentioned his threat in my preview post. Meanwhile, back in Gattuso’s “something different” tactics, rather than replace Paqueta with a fabulous trequartista we already had in Calhanoglu, he continued to keep the Turkish player deeply embedded in the midfield three and give the awkward but fast Castillejo the duties of playing behind the striker. However, Castillejo couldn’t stay in the middle, so Gattuso switched to an even more complacent 4-4-2.

Definitely not a trequartista.

I am not a coach. But, as I mentioned on the last podcast, sometimes I think coaches are too close to the problem to see what is really going on. For example, it’s been so long since Gattuso let Calhanoglu play as a trequartista, he probably forgot that it is his natural position. Well, and then once you put the one-dimensional Castillejo on, there aren’t as many options, either. But so often, we’ve seen that Gattuso struggles with any kind of tactical flexibility, and although he tried today with his starting lineup, he still failed to make the right changes within the game.

I’m not trying to imply that he is the only reason Milan dropped points today. I don’t know how Milan players plan to earn a Champions League spot when they put more enthusiasm and energy into telling the ref how to do his job than they do in actually doing theirs. Tactics or not, our players are getting paid probably anywhere from double to ten times as much as Udinese players are. And they are barely able to equalize with them. That was perhaps the most harsh reality of this match.

Sorely missed.

Losing two of our best starters is horrible, and adding them to our three other injured starters makes facing Juventus on Saturday that much more dreadful. But looking at our performances of late, even several of them where we won, is far more portentous. The scoreline of this match perhaps most accurately shows how Milan performed of all of the recent matches, but now we have a new plague of injuries to our starters to add to that. Bring out your dead.


This post inspired by the music of Jan Stoeckart’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail Theme”


Our next match is
Serie A Week 31
Juventus vs. Milan
Saturday, April 6 • 18:00 CST (12noon EDT)