Facing Real Madrid: An 0-0 Omen?

Six years ago, Milan faced Real Madrid in a preseason friendly. That match ended 0-0 in regulation. A 16 year-old goalkeeper called Gianluigi Donnarumma mad his debut in the 70th minute and saved a penalty from Toni Kroos. Earlier, Milan faced Real Madrid again, and Mike Maignan saved a penalty from Gareth Bale. Coincidence? Or is it an omen? Because if it is an omen, we could be facing another six years of excellent goalkeeping with our newest keeper.

Does saving a penalty against Real Madrid bring 6 years of good form?

Friendlies are a bit like test driving a car. You get a feel for how it handles, but until it is driven on the open road and proven in different situations, you don't know exactly what you've got. Milan's friendlies to this point were largely unimpressive, but as I wrote the other day, I was hoping that against a big team, they would show a little more. And they did. 

Theo Hernández brought his Real Madrid game

Real Madrid were the better team overall, but Milan seemed to have surprised them with how well we played. Certainly we kept them off of the scoreboard, including a Modrić screamer that hit the crossbar, as well as the aforementioned Bale penalty. That penalty was called on Calabria in the 40th minute when it seemed Bale had almost beaten two Milan players. Not only did Maignan save it, but Tomori wisely and quickly cleared it, which is something that defenders can forget to do. It wasn't a great penalty on Bale's part, but it was the highlight of a great performance by our new goalkeeper.

The Magic Eagle spreads his wings

Pioli's starting lineup was Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Romagnoli, Theo Hernández, Tonali, Krunić; Saelemaekers, Brahim Díaz, Leao; and Giroud. Kessié is due back sometime next week from Olympic duty, while Bennacer was cleared to train again following negative COVID tests. Even without our two starting midfielders, Tonali did well, already showing growth and maturity since last season. Both Brahim Díaz and Theo Hernández had their Real Madrid form on while facing their former team, the latter hitting the post in the third minute. 

Tonali didn't look bad against the brilliant Modrić

At the half, Pioli replaced Leao with Rebić, while Ancelotti swapped out half his team. When Ancelotti subbed his Viking on in Ødegaard, Pioli called his bluff by bringing our Viking, Kjaer, on for Romagnoli in the 62nd minute. Brahim Dìaz had a great shot in the 65th, forcing a great save by substitute keeper Lunin. When Kalulu came on for Calabria in the 75th, Kjaer was given the armband, which just seemed right. Daniel Maldini, Castillejo, Ballo-Touré, and Pobega all got ten minutes as well.

Nice to have our Viking back

The pitch invaders that came on in the 84th and after the final whistle got a couple of minutes themselves, as stewards seem to have forgotten what they were supposed to do, or were more interested in getting selfies with the players. The 30,000 spectators there may have also helped the players step up their game, as that is the biggest crowd they have played in front of in a year and a half. The result may seem a little mundane, but the game was actually a good watch. Let's just hope that Maignan's big save was an omen.

This post inspired by the music of The Prodigy's "Omen"

Our next match is a Friendly
AC Milan vs. Panathinaikos FC
Saturday, August 14 • 20:30 CEST (2:30pm EDT)

Facing Real Madrid: An 0-0 Omen? Facing Real Madrid: An 0-0 Omen? Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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