Spezia 2, Milan 0: Love the One You're With

This game was brutal. Milan looked like the 16th place team, and Spezia... well maybe they didn't look like the top of the table team, but their performance was nothing short of incredible, and they deserved the three points and the joy it clearly brought their team. Speaking of joy, however, it seems like Milan fans have forgotten all of the joy this team has brought us this past year. In spite of Valentine's Day this weekend, fans forsook all of the love they had for this team up until kickoff, and instead spewed hate and criticism toward the players they have worshipped in good performances. Those who call themselves "supporters" of this team forgot that support is an action, not an option. Yes, this one hurt. Bad. No one more so than the players themselves, I'm sure. This wasn't a cry for hate, it was an opportunity to remember to love the one you're with.

In good times and in bad

The game itself was never even a contest. From the beginning, it was clear that Milan were not settling in, and Spezia's confidence grew as the Milan we have known this past year was pinned back. Spezia were well prepared. They pestered, disrupted, and took advantage of every error, every misplaced pass, and perhaps the overconfidence of this Milan team. Despite Pioli fielding basically the best team he had, Spezia were hungrier, they wanted this more.

Maggiore's goal in the 57th was 57 minutes in the making. For once, Pioli's subs of Mandzukic, Meite, and Tomori in the 65th minute had no impact whatsoever. It was almost as if having almost an entire squad available for the first time in months and a whole six days in between games was a disadvantage to Milan. But really Italiano and his side played a perfect game. So when Dalot gave up a free kick on the edge of the box in the 66th and Bastoni scored from that free kick, it was honestly deserved. 

Milan caught standing

Spezia took 17 shots, four of which were on target. They weren't even that clinical, they just wanted this. But Milan were not even mentally present, taking only seven shots total, with zero on target in the entire match. They had a really bad night. One way to measure the difference in quality would be to look at wages... Milan's starting 11 for this match make €28.8 million per year (which is quite low compared to the past year's performances or their individual valuations.) Spezia's entire squad, all 31 players, only makes €22 million per year. Milan were easily expected to come home with three points, and instead are coming home empty handed.

Trying to single out an individual performance is impossible. Every player made errors, every Milan player underperformed. The entire team was poor on the night, and even if they weren't, this team are not about calling each other out or pointing fingers. They play as one team. They win as one team, and they lose as one team. This one hurts every player just as much as it hurts every fan. 

Not even the big sharks could take down the minnows

However, it was just one bad night. They have fought through the adversity of injuries, COVID-19, and so much more. Yet they have given us everything they have on the pitch. Chalk it up to the weather, the stadium, overconfidence, or just under-preparation for a side that had beaten Napoli and knocked Roma out of the Coppa Italia. Pioli and the team will be able to figure out the why. It is our jobs as fans to support them in good times and in bad, like the Curva Sud claims to. We don't need to pretend that they had a good performance or reward the bad performance with praise. But we also don't need to spew hate and criticism and vitriol on social media, either. Their shame is pain enough.

This one hurts. We still have to wait to see Sunday's results to know if the loss will cost us our top spot on the table. But now of all times, our team need us to rally around them and move on to Thursday's match along with them. We don't have to pretend this didn't happen. Our broken hearts wear this scar as much as our players will, and you must know how very much this stings for them. But for those who truly support Milan, it is important to believe that they can and will play better on Thursday and going forward. Certainly, with the next month's schedule, they are going to need every ounce of our support. Being in love with the Rossoneri squad isn't about only loving them when they play well. It is about suffering with them when they suffer, too. We are not bandwagon fans like Inter, Milan are a family. As a part of that family, we all need to remember to love the one you're with.

This post inspired by the music of Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With"

Our next match is
Europa League Round of 32
Red Star Belgrade vs. AC Milan
Thursday, February 18 • 18:55 CET (12:55 EST)

Spezia 2, Milan 0: Love the One You're With Spezia 2, Milan 0: Love the One You're With Reviewed by Elaine on 11:00 PM Rating: 5
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