Fiorentina 1, Milan 1: VAR-iable

Milan were lucky to come away with the point in a match where we played poorly, especially in the second half. Sure, the team are tired and injuries are starting to set in, but we are at that point in the season where we need 90 minutes from our young team (plus a couple of champions.) What was forgotten was the football, in a match where once again, the referee’s decisions on when and how to use VAR were very inconsistent. VAR-iable.

When VAR goes missing

The match started out energetically enough, with shots fired at both ends, and both keepers being moderately involved with the game. There were woeful attempts, such as Castrovilli’s in the 13th minute, or Bennacer’s in the 32nd. Bennacer’s miss was very poor, but it wasn’t as dreadful as his yellow card in the 12th minute, which I believe is his 12th card of the season, too. How nostalgic. He’s been phenomenal at pretty much everything else, but his discipline is not improving, he is still making way too many rash and late challenges.

Fiorentina also honored Pioli with a lovely banner, "A real man and a great leader, Stefano, always one of us." He had coached them for two years prior to coming to Milan, including through the Astori tragedy. Many of the players consider him to be like a father to them, and you could see their mutual affection as they greeted one another. As always, they also honored Astori with applause in the 13th minute, the same minute as the late captain and former Milan youth player. 

So classy of Fiorentina fans

The first goal was in the 34th minute, when Ibrahimovic did what Ibrahimovic does best: annihilate. He took the ball away from Dalbert, dribbled through with a couple of defenders on him, beat Caceres, then sent the ball forward and around Dragowski, aka The Beard. Which was simply amazing, until Calvarese blew the whistle and signaled for a VAR review. After the review, Ibrahimovic was called for a handball on the beginning of the play and before the goal, so it was called off. Still 0-0.

This was the right call. Please send your hate and ignorance to

Such great skills, the handball was so unlucky

In the 52nd, Gigio could not continue, so we saw the debut of Begovic, who just so happens to hold the world’s record for the longest goal and also has his own podcast where he talks about sports. (You should really check it out.) You’re welcome. Back to the game, Begovic immediately saved a tricky cross/shot from Chiesa, and then a few minutes later, Rebic scored for Milan. 1-0 Milan. And thanks, Caceres, for the assist… no matter what club he is at, he seems to like to lend a helping hand to Milan.

In the 60th, Ibrahimovic was fouled by Dalbert just outside the box. Initially, Calvarese showed him a yellow and gave the free kick to Milan. However, after VAR review, he sent Dalbert off because he was judged to have interfered with a goalscoring opportunity. Again, Calvarese listened to the little VAR elves in his earpiece, reviewed the play, and made the right call. Fiorentina were on ten men.

One out of three goals stood

Once Cutrone was subbed on in the 68th minute, all hell broke loose. He was heartbreakingly the catalyst for our misfortunes. Castillejo scored in the 71st, but it was called back (rightfully so) for offside. Then in the 83rd, as he and Romagnoli were battling shoulder to shoulder for the ball, Romagnoli poked the ball out of bounds, but Calvarese called for the penalty. Here is where the VAR-iable came in: he did not use VAR to review this. If he had, he would have easily seen how Romagnoli got the ball first, and the ball clearly changed direction when he did. It was never a penalty. Except it was, because he called it. And Pulgar converted it for the equalizer, which took points from Milan 1-1 all. (Begovic even got a hand on it, but was unable to make the save.)

Even Maldini, who rarely ever says anything about the refs, had strong words for the inconsistency of the use of VAR. I cannot really argue that Milan deserved the win, because we played so poorly, especially after Fiorentina went down to ten men and definitely did not take advantage of the numerical edge we had. But we didn’t deserve the penalty call. And we did deserve the same respect for Calvarese to review the call that was given to the previous two calls, both of which he changed his initial call after the review.

Bennacer has been great except for the yellows

This was not a great match. Made worse by not so great use of VAR. After all this time, there definitely should be more consistency with the technology, and it is certainly a tough pill to swallow when that inconsistency cost us points. But at the end of the day, we are the ones who truly cost ourselves points. Fiorentina took almost twice as many shots as we did, and we faded so much in the second half. At the end of the season, though, these two points could prove quite costly. And that is why this match was a VAR-iable.

This post inspired by the music of The Smiths' "Shoplifters of the World Unite"

Our next match is
Serie A Week 26
Milan vs. Genoa
Sunday, March 1 • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)

Fiorentina 1, Milan 1: VAR-iable Fiorentina 1, Milan 1: VAR-iable Reviewed by Elaine on 1:02 AM Rating: 5
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