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Verona 0, Milan 1: A Violent Affair



The Stadio Bentegodi is always a passionate venue, and tempers flared during Milan’s visit there tonight. There were seven yellow cards and two red cards, one for each team. After 98 minutes, Milan emerged victorious. But we were not without battle scars. And Verona likely felt like they deserved something out of this match, too having played on ten men for most of the match. My preview for this match juxtaposed this fixture with the tragic love affair of Romeo and Juliet, which was also set in Verona, but this was just a violent affair.

Not sure if celebrating win or just still being alive

No one could say this match was boring. There were chances for both sides right away, and in the eighth minute, Gigio was called upon and demonstrated why he makes the big money with an incredibly impressive and breathtaking double save. Five minutes later, Kessie was shoved down just outside of the box, but Manganiello didn’t make the call.

I’m curious as to whether or not the Verona players know the difference between Spanish and Portuguese, because I think they mistook Paquetá for a piñata, he was fouled so much. Giampaolo, apparently more concerned with the avant garde than winning matches, had placed Paquetá in a more advanced role, supporting Piatek in the 4-3-2-1. Anything other than playing a player at their natural position, that’s how Giampaolo rolls. Paqueta struggled, was beaten again and again, earned a yellow, and was subbed off at the half.

Musacchio probably feels lucky to be alive

The most brutal moment was in the 19th minute, when Stepinski cleated Musacchio on the side of his head with a very high kick. Manganiello originally showed a yellow, but after VAR review, he sent the striker off with a straight red in the 21st. Then Piatek, already frustrated, shoved Faraoni in the 24th and saw a yellow. Piatek was the source of much love, being held again and again throughout the night by the Verona defense, without a single call. I get it, guys, we all want to hug him and thank him for his awesomeness, but in the box, that’s supposed to be illegal.

Verre had a spectacular shot in the 28th when he took the ball on the volley, controlled it, and sent it just barely over the crossbar. It was beautiful, but heart-stopping, and Milan were lucky not to be down after that chance. The half closed with a beautiful curling shot from Calabria that was unfortunately saved.

Kessie was racially abused again, but hey, Italy aren't racist

Giampaolo made his singular sub in Rebic at halftime. After all of his “there is no old, no new, only Milan” mantra about his players, it was as if he was trying to piss everyone off by starting zero new players again. Even my commentator pointed out that clubs make new signings to improve the team, not warm the bench.

So Rebic, the newest and least likely to fit into whatever Giampaolo’s system is today, was given 45 minutes and didn’t really impress. As the new player with the highest wages, he’ll need to show a little more to win fans over. His biggest claims to fame in this match were missing a point blank 1 v 1 in the 56th after an exquisite Suso cross, and getting a yellow card in the 86th. Did Giampaolo do this intentionally to try to show that the old players are better or something? Or to turn the players against Rebic? It was not smart.

He'll need more time, but he was not convincing

Calabria hit the post in the 57th with an amazing shot from outside the area, so unlucky. Then Verre answered at the other end by hitting the post, too. But it was in the 64th that our fortunes finally changed. Calhanoglu took a shot that hit Günter on the hand, then Zaccagni shoved Calhanoglu and things got a little tense for a minute or two. Manganiello checked with VAR and awarded a penalty to Milan. Piatek stepped up and took a brilliant penalty and converted it. 1-0 Milan.

In the 83rd, Piatek was not so lucky. Calhanoglu took a shot that Silvestri failed to clear, and Piatek came in and put it over the line. However, after another VAR review, the goal was disallowed, as Silvestri was judged to have had control over the ball when Piatek came in, so Piatek was called for the foul. At least il Pistolero got his knees warmed up for sliding in celebration in the Derby next week.

Magical

As if our hearts hadn’t been tested enough, in the final minute of stoppage time, Calabria clotheslined Pessina just outside the box and was sent off with a straight red card. Manganiello wisely consulted VAR as to the foul itself as well as the location, and he made the right call, unfortunately for Calabria. After four more minutes of stoppage time, there was time for one more play, in which Veloso sent the resulting free kick into the wall, but Lazovic sent the rebound screaming just a hair wide, actually grazing the post before the ref blew the whistle.

The game was eventful, but Milan’s play still disappointed. Especially playing against ten men for 70 minutes. But it’s hard to be mad when Giampaolo literally lined up the same players who earned us fifth place last year, but expected a different result. He even reverted to more of a 4-3-3 when Rebic came on, it was so frightening. Biglia was just coming back from injury, but he played all 90 minutes (risking more injury ahead of the Derby,) and Bennacer, who completely dazzled last time, sat on the bench. And now we face the Derby with our new players even further from assimilating because they’ve been riding the bench. It’s incomprehensible.

"Get off my lawn!"

People praised Giampaolo this summer as if he was the Arrigo Sacchi’s heir. In fact, even Arrigo Sacchi praised him. I was a bit more wary. But now people are asking how long he will be allowed before Milan cuts our losses. After three games in. Because in many ways, we are playing worse than last year under Gattuso, and with so much new talent just sitting and rotting on the bench, people are starting to see that they might have been wrong to judge Giampaolo so quickly.

This match was really ugly. While there were some nice plays at time, and Milan dominated possession, they also were a man up for 70 minutes. Verona had to have felt robbed, as they really had some great chances and fought hard on 11 men and even harder on ten men. After plenty of violence, but luckily no apparent injuries, Milan were lucky to take all three points, an important win ahead of the Derby.


This post inspired by the music of the Violent Femmes


Our next match is
Serie A Week 4
Il Derby della Madonnina
Milan vs. Inter
Saturday, September 21 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)