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Milan 1, Brescia 0: Reverse Psychology



Milan managed to take all three points from a subdued Brescia today to reward the 56,000 fans who showed up to the San Siro. But to hear Giampaolo tell it, it was a complete disaster. Nay, Paqueta is too Brazilian. And he’ll start whomever he wants up front. The guy sounds more like the grumpy old man telling you to get off of his lawn. Maybe he was just cranky from wearing the suit. And he is crazy stubborn about doing things his way, at the cost of actually lining up the best team and winning in the best possible way. So I’ve developed a plan: have the media tell him the opposite of what is working. Then he’ll stubbornly do the right thing, just to spite them. It’s reverse psychology.

I think Calhanoglu is tearing up there, such a deserved goal





Milan started tentatively, but quickly began to attack. I’ll repeat that, Milan began to attack. I will say this for Giampaolo, after scaring the hell out of everyone threatening to go back to the 4-3-3, the 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree system was just what was needed in this match. Also Bennacer as a regista. And no Borini. And Kessie back in the starting 11. He definitely got a lot more things right after last week’s disaster. Even if the 4-3-2-1 was his only original idea.


He was rewarded for that when Calhanoglu, playing really where the useless Castillejo was meant to be playing, headed in a beautiful goal past Jaronen from a perfect Suso cross, 1-0 Milan. Had Paqueta or Calhanoglu been started in Castillejo’s spot, maybe even André Silva would have scored. He wasn’t terrible, but he was no Cutrone. And no Piatek. And that makes it harder to figure out why Giampaolo gave the first 60 minutes to him.


Finally, Bennacer

Bennacer looked phenomenal, controlling the play, completing passes, and doing all of those things a regista should do. It’s difficult to think about how much better Milan would have been against Udinese last week had Giampaolo trusted him like all of the other Serie A coaches trust their capable new signings. It’s like he was worried the new players wouldn’t fit into his system, but his system was a nightmare. So anyway, Biglia, please take your time healing up, I think we’re good for the duration of your contract.

Sabelli caused Milan some problems, missing a point blank chance in the 19th, then forcing Gigio into a great save in the 31st. Torregrossa returned from injury for Brescia and tried to make his mark, but ended up taking a knock and being subbed off at the half. Ayé replaced him and was far more physical, but also unpredictably dangerous. Tonali worked hard, but his magic was mostly restrained, bar a nice free kick that landed in the side netting and earning a yellow card in stoppage time.

How many defenders does it take to stop Piatek?

The biggest surprise was that in the battle of Donnarumma vs. Donnarumma, Gigio seemed to neutralize Alfredo, with the help of a Milan defense that was far superior to last week’s charlatans. We were lucky to not see the Balotelli-led Brescia, but also lucky that last season’s capocannoniere in Serie B was kept silent at the San Siro.

The match was physical, and parts of the second half were not pretty. Castillejo got his foot stepped on, surprised it didn’t shatter like a glass slipper. Piatek had a bloody nose, but that just made him angrier. And Brescia didn’t like it when he was angry. For example, he had a point blank shot that Jaronen absorbed with his body (probably going to bruise nicely, too.) Then Paqueta had a gorgeous missile from distance that hit the post. Then Piatek had another incredible shot, only to see Jaronen miraculously save it, only confirmed by Goal Line Technology. The last 15 minutes were insane, Milan had so many great chances, but had to settle for the one goal.

If Paquetá is "too Brazilian," then Borini is too Italian, and should therefore be shipped off immediately

Going back to the beginning, where I repeated that Milan began to attack, it really shows when the defense are playing well and we have an actual midfield to speak of. Romagnoli, for example, completed 100 per cent of his passes in the first half. Then you put Bennacer in front of him, and suddenly our midfield isn’t a leaky boat ready to sink at any point. When Giampaolo finally took the hint and brought on Piatek in the 60th, play improved. Then he brought Paqueta on five minutes later, and play improved again. All of a sudden, with ten of the 11 players who should have started plus Castillejo, and most players playing at their positions, Milan were playing attractive football. Funny how that works. And Giampaolo doesn't really have time for games and popularity contests. He needs every point, as Gattuso painfully learned last year. So start your best 11 in their natural positions wherever possible. Period.

"Get off my lawn!"

But don’t tell Giampaolo. Play the opposite game. As we head into this International break, tell him that Castillejo is going to win the Ballon d’Or if he keeps starting, so don’t you dare give Leao any time. Tell him that Borini should start above all else. Remind him that Paqueta barely deserves to sit on the bench, and Piatek should never start again. Tell him that in goal, it should be age before youth, and that Calhanoglu should always play regista ahead of Bennacer, even when Biglia returns. That the 4-3-2-1 is possibly the worst system ever for this team and should never be played again. Maybe if we share the worst possible ideas with that grumpy old man, then he’ll stubbornly make the right choices for us in the future. It’s all about the reverse psychology.


This post inspired by the music of Muse’s “Butterflies and Hurricanes”