Lecce 1, Milan 4: Revival


Have you ever dreamed about something, and then it was even better in real life than you had dreamed? That was this match for me. I was so grateful just to have Serie A back again, I really didn’t care about the result. But the team did. They fought against a relegation team that took points from us in October, and they didn’t let up after a goal or two or even three. Their focus and determination were inspiring coming off of such a tough time. Both for returning after three months, and for those of us fans who suffered watching previous Milan teams, this was a revival.

Back with a vengeance

After a slightly timid first 15 minutes, Milan’s attack decided to test former teammate Gabriel, and he was up to the test quite a few times, including a wicked reflex save on Bonaventura in the 15th. But they kept hammering, until Calhanoglu slotted in a great cross for Castillejo in the 26th, who made no mistake, 1-0.

The biggest regret of this match was in the 28th, when ex-Milan midfielder Saponara injured Kjaer. He was subbed off in the 40th, and with both Musacchio and Duarte out injured, the young Gabbia came on in his place. This injury is worrying, and such a shame right on the heels of his phenomenal performance against Juve, too.

A goal and two assists between them

Meccariello scored a goal in the 36th, but it was called back for offside, even after VAR review. Milan still led at the half. It wasn’t a good day for the Milan exes, as poor Lapadula rolled his ankle twice and had to be stretchered off just before the half. Pioli also earned himself a yellow in stoppage time of the first half, I think he was protesting all of the rumors about his job.

Gabbia’s evening took a turn for the worse when he was whistled for a foul on Babacar in the 55th, with Valeri awarding a penalty. I have issues with Valeri’s awarding of penalties, but the VAR review rightly maintained this call, and Mancosu stepped up and converted it 1-1.

Life is always better when Jack scores

This is when the match got really good, though. Whereas Milan teams of the past would have faded after an equalizer was scored in an away match, this team stepped up. First Bonaventura tapped in a Calhanoglu rebound in the 55th to take the lead back, 2-1 Milan. Then two minutes later, Rebic scored on an amazing breakaway, 3-1 Milan. Saponara tried to catch him, but to no avail.

Gabriel had a tough night at the office, but Rebic was a beast

Poor Gabbia saw yellow for a foul in the 63rd, then the parade of subs began. Most notably, Leao replaced Rebic in the 68th, which he emphasized four minutes later with a great header from an assist by Conti. 4-1 Milan. That seemed to be enough of a trouncing for Milan to inflict on their first match back. Well, that and they did look a little tired. But that was the first time Milan had scored four goals in a match since September of 2018, and it felt damn good.

Make no mistake, it's Leao

Can I also just say that I love the 4-2-3-1? There may not ever be a book written about Pioli’s tactics like Cruyff or someone, but his practical tactics absolutely work. He has gotten the most out of quality players like Calhanoglu and Rebic who were seriously misused or underused or maligned or all of the above. Kessie and Bennacer are an amazing midfield pairing, Kessie has been amazing defensively and Bennacer has been phenomenal all the way around. Despite poor Gabbia’s learning curve tonight, the defense have really been coming into their own. But most of all, between Pioli’s calming mentality and the tactics, we are scoring goals again. With Ibrahimovic, without Ibrahimovic, that offensively constipated play we saw for the last two or three years has been replaced by goals. And some pretty entertaining football.

Heal up, we need you, Kjaer

This match far exceeded my expectations, I am still smiling, hours later. This is how we wanted to come out of the gate in Serie A. This is a team that is serious about getting Europe. And this is a team that Gazidis didn’t pull any horrible emotional mindgames with in the last day or two leading up to the match, either. Coincidence? Whatever with him and all of the rumors, I loved this Milan today, I was so proud of their performance, and the score was pretty nice, too. Revival.


This post inspired by the music of AC/DC’s “Back in Black”


Our next match is
Serie A Week 28
Milan vs. Roma
Sunday, June 28 • 17:15 CEST (11:15am EDT)

Lecce 1, Milan 4: Revival Lecce 1, Milan 4: Revival Reviewed by Elaine on 11:58 PM Rating: 5
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