Milan-SPAL Preview: Happy SPAL-loween

As if Milan fans weren’t frightened enough, we face more of a trick than a treat in 19th placed SPAL on Thursday. They earned one of their seven points on Sunday at the expense of Napoli. And with Pioli desperately trying to stabilize Milan’s mentality, meanwhile Milan fans continue to heap ten years of failure on the shoulders of this young team, this match could turn into a frightfest. Happy SPAL-loween.

Petagna and friends: "We're here for 3 points and all of your candy!"

Two years ago, SPAL, or Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor, returned to Serie A after a 49 year absence. They finished 17th that year, and managed to finish 13th last year. Unlike Milan’s bench, Leonardo Semplici has coached the team for nearly five years, guiding them from the depths of Lega Pro and welcoming reinforcements along the way, like former Milan megastars Bartosz Salamon, Andrea Petagna, and Alberto Paloschi. Those three and the rest of the players masquerading as underdogs will definitely be trick-or-treating on Milan’s door at the San Siro on Thursday.

For the 1-1 draw that was like a victory against Napoli on Sunday, Semplici lined up Berisha; Tomovic, Vicari, Igor; Strefezza, Missiroli, Murgia, Kurtic, Reca; Paloschi, and Petagna. SPAL have assembled a halfway decent team for a club that is fighting relegation at this point and for whom midtable would feel like a championship. However, Semplici does have some injuries, with D’Alessandro, Di Francesco, and Fares out longterm and Igor and Kurtic in doubt for Thursday.

Remember this guy? One of Galliani's expensive 6 month specials.

Pioli has nearly a full squad, with Rodriguez in doubt and Caldara waiting for his 100 percent fitness clearance. However, Pioli is battling a mentality monster that has been impacting the squad all season and for part of last season. That mentality issue was directly responsible for the loss in Rome on Sunday, with mistakes being so costly. Worse, he is fighting against the comedy of errors that is the Milan fanbase. Those who claim to support the club have so much misplaced anger from years of failure and mismanagement, and they are taking their aggression out on this young team and new management.

For people who look back to when Galliani sold Ibra and Silva because he had purchased them without being able to afford their salaries, being a Milan fan has just spiraled downward in terms of everything: management, coaches, players, performances, and results. At that time, we asked for Maldini to return. We wanted a young, talented squad. We wanted an owner with deep pockets. And now we have all of those things.

Pioli: "What is that horrible stench over there?" "It's the Curva Sud, sir."

Unfortunately, like a cancer, Milan fans have taken all of those horrible experiences, lumped them into one entitled ball of anger, and are hurling it at individual players, coaches, management, and the club in general. They don’t seem to realize the impact of their abuse online and their in-stadium protests. As in they are literally worsening the mentality issues that are preventing the results we all want so desperately. Ironically, everything else to finally actually rebuild Milan is actually happening, but the fans are now the biggest obstacle to restoring the mentality, thus the performances, and the much-needed results. Frightening.

There will be eleven players dressed up in Milan jerseys on Thursday who will take the pitch and sweat blood for all of us. There will be a decent coach with a sincere heart on the sidelines. Amongst management will be our idols and Milan legends, Maldini and Boban. And then there will be some people masquerading as Milan fans. Whether or not the real fans show up to support their team remains to be seen. And whether or not they actually show support instead of whistle players and protest with banners and hurl insults online will likely determine whether Milan get a trick or a treat. It could be a Milan win, or a happy SPAL-loween.

This post inspired by the Danny Elfman’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” Soundtrack

Serie A Week 10
Milan vs. SPAL
Thursday, October 31 • 21:00 CET (4pm EDT*)
This match can be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.

*European Sumer Time has ended, but U.S. Daylight time is still ongoing

Milan-SPAL Preview: Happy SPAL-loween Milan-SPAL Preview: Happy SPAL-loween Reviewed by Elaine on 9:42 AM Rating: 5
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