Torino-Milan Preview: Please Not Again

In recent years, fans have relished being even within a Champions League qualifying spot at this point of the year. Rallying around the team for the last five matches of the season, the excitement would be palpable, leading to resignation if we didn’t make it. But having been in third place just six painful weeks ago, with the chance to go four points clear, Milan’s performances since then have been far less than convincing. Our results have been abysmal, and our mentality worse. So rather than look to yet another tough away match against an opponent who are also struggling for a European spot, many Milan fans are saying “Please, not again.”

Our earlier match ended in a frustrating 0-0 draw

Torino currently sit in seventh place on the table, just three points behind us.  They are coming off of a 1-0 away win over Prandelli’s Genoa last weekend. For that match, Mazzarri lined up Sirigu; Izzo, N’Koulou, Moretti; Ansaldi, Rincon, Meite, Aina; Berenguer, Baselli, and Belotti. He will be missing Djidji, whose season is over due to a knee injury. Falque is still in doubt due to fitness, and both Zaza and Baselli are suspended for this match.

Gattuso has a fresh injury in Calabria’s season-ending compound leg fracture that he sustained on Wednesday in our Coppa Italia match. That is in addition to Bonaventura, who has been missing for most of the season as well. And in a sad twist of fate, Strinic, who missed half of the season due to a heart problem, and has been working to be fit ever since, sprained his ankle in training this week. That puts more doubt on his chances of ever earning a Milan start this season. These injuries shouldn’t impact the team too much, however, but Milan have a habit of choking when it matters most. So I suppose you could add the entire Milan team’s mentality to the injury list as well.

I think the frustration is universal

Also strange is that Paqueta reportedly regained fitness in record time, but still has not played. Gattuso has been known to be cautious with players returning from injury, but now we are clinging to a Champions League qualification spot by a mere head to head result. Given not only the skills but also the tactical options a player like Paqueta affords us, it seems very odd that Gattuso hasn’t at least subbed him on in the last two matches that he has been available for. Is the kid still injured? Or is Gattuso using Leonardo’s Brazilian jewel as a pawn in their reportedly strained relationship? It’s just a theory, but given Gattuso’s brilliant permanent benching of Montolivo this season, it’s not at all far-fetched. Let’s hope that it’s just been precautionary based on fitness.

Whatever Gattuso chooses to do tactically and with lineups, the mentality is where the most work is needed. What a difference from Gattuso’s first few months as first team coach, where mentality reigned and football didn’t matter, results came as a by-product of pure infused grinta. Now it feels like the best lineups and tactics in the world could be applied to this group, but there is no belief, no life, and no desire to make that Champions League qualifying spot. That doesn’t even include the fact that Milan’s away record this season is terrible. Which is why, rather than being excited for the last five games, so many fans are saying “Please, not again.”

This post inspired by the music of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Big Empty”

Serie A Week 34
Torino vs. Milan
Sunday, April 28 • 20:30 CEST (2:30pm EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.

Torino-Milan Preview: Please Not Again Torino-Milan Preview: Please Not Again Reviewed by Elaine on 9:42 AM Rating: 5
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