Milan 0, Cagliari 0: The Big Empty

This was Milan's best chance to secure a Champions League spot. Even just one goal may have made it happen. But we were playing at San Siro. And the pressure on the players was palpable. That's the problem with having a young team, when the going gets tough, the players don't perform. Meanwhile, Cagliari, whose Serie A safety had been mathematically confirmed earlier, had literally been drinking champagne in the afternoon, so were perfectly relaxed. They had nothing to lose, and nothing to prove, yet they played a fantastic game. So Milan's nerves cost us possibly our last real chance at Champions League for next year. Literally, after leading the league for the first half of the season, Milan could end up with the big empty.


Eating your shirt is just empty calories, Samu

Perhaps someone should check the San Siro for Kryptonite, because there is no other realistic expectations for what has happened to the mentality at home this season. After two stunning back to back wins this past week, Milan came up completely empty, when it mattered most. Missing Ibrahimovic cannot be the reason, because he has missed more than half of the matches this season, and Milan won many of those games without him. Perhaps it is all of the busy graphics in the dressing room and leading out to the pitch, most of the words in English? Or the ugly new kits they were wearing? Who knows. But this draw hurt.

Looking at the performances, many of the young players seemed to lack the experience to push through and be clinical. People heavily criticized Rebic and Calhanoglu, both of whom Pioli had inexplicably played out of position. Again. We learned many times this year that Rebic is not a center forward. Calhanoglu is not a winger, either. The only players who really played well were Kjaer and Gigio Donnarumma.


Another solid performance from the experienced Kjaer

The most inexplicable decision was bringing on Castillejo in the 57th. Out of our 21 shots, only two were on target. I think the other 19 were Castillejo's. He truly is the new Borini, recklessly taking shots when teammates were free, and always missing. And both of them look horrible with bleached hair, too. Cagliari didn't even worry about defending him, that's how poor he was, because they knew he was a zero threat. Don't get me started on Pioli not giving Hauge a chance. He has to have a much better goals per minute stat than many of the other attackers, with a lot fewer minutes.

Three of the final subs felt more than ironic. With Juventus benefitting most from our failure to win, Semplici brought on former Juventus player Asamoah, as well as Juventus-owned Rugani. Pioli, as if wasting the last bullet in a life and death situation, brought on former Juventus striker Mandzukic in the 89th. It was like adding insult to injury.


We need the Champions League to hope to be able to keep Gigio, too

Now it will be win or go to the Europa League on Sunday against an Atalanta side that have been absolutely ruthless with Milan. Sure, they have the Coppa Italia final midweek, so will be tired. And yes, it is an away match, which gives us half a chance. But how Pioli will even convince this team that they can actually win on Sunday, let alone getting them to actually go out and do it seems nearly impossible.

The players have been saying for weeks now that they need to show that the hard work the first half of the season, when Milan were top of the table the whole time, was worth something. In Turin this past week, they definitely showed what they could do. 


Regrets

But Cagliari were no Juve or Torini. Semplici has this team playing well, and credit to them for shutting us down at every turn. Perhaps knowing that they were safe already (and maybe the champagne) was what made the difference? Certainly, they were not under the pressure that Milan were. And with the second half of this season, Milan have proven time and time again that they cannot handle the pressure. That's why even taking a point from this match just feels like the big empty.


This post inspired by the music of Stone Temple Pilot's "The Big Empty"


Our next match is
Serie A Week 38
Atalanta vs. Milan
Sunday, May 23 • time TBD


Milan 0, Cagliari 0: The Big Empty Milan 0, Cagliari 0: The Big Empty Reviewed by Elaine on 1:00 AM Rating: 5
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