Udinese 1, Milan 1: Mental Exhaustion

From the reactions of fans during and after the game, it is difficult to tell who is more mentally exhausted this season – the players or the fans. Not that watching the game helped to choose between the two. Even our kit man seems to be fatigued, having spelled Messias' name wrong on the back of his jersey. With our Champions League exit on Wednesday, and averaging five or more players injured every match for at least two months now, it is no wonder that all of us are a little burned out. The players have the additional physical fatigue, but with all of the errors of late, I think the focus issue is primarily a result of mental exhaustion.

Milan are so tire, even Ibrahimović could only score from a prone position

If you did not watch the match live, I don't recommend it. Udinese were fresh and full of attack, Milan were not at all up to par. To be fair, Pioli had the flu and likely had a fever when he lined up the squad, because Bakayoko and Bennacer would be my last choice pairing in the double pivot... ever. I know Kessié's performances have been lacking, and Tonali needed rest, but it was a disaster waiting to happen. Get better quickly, Mister.

We didn't have to wait long, either. Deulofeu was hell-bent on scoring on us, and nearly did in the eighth minute, forcing Maignan into action with Tomori clearing it away. That was kind of a running theme in this match, only even that failed in the 17th minute, when Bennacer gave the ball away in a tragic comedy of defensive errors. Beto took advantage of it, and Udinese were in the lead, 1-0. Beto also threatened throughout the game, and Udinese would end up with 11 shots, six of which were on target.

It wasn't like we had zero opportunities, Silvestri had a solid game and we couldn't finish, either

Having the very cold air in his lungs may have helped more oxygen to the brain, and so Pioli wisely made three important subs at the half, bringing on Tonali, Kessié, and Messias. Since they will actually have eight days of rest before facing off against Napoli, he must have realized that he could squeeze a little more out of them. Those subs made an immediate impact, and the team were more recognizable, although unable to convert. In all, they would have twelve shots, but only one on target.

That shot did not come until stoppage time, when Ibrahimović joined the elite 300 goal club with a bicycle kick goal. 1-1 all. He is the third player, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, to score 300 league goals in the top five European leagues. And he even took a two year vacation here in Los Angeles, too. The goal really stepped up Milan's efforts, but there was just not enough time left to create any opportunities that weren't launched into orbit or to the corner flag or to no one at all. It was definitely one of those days. Even with 66% possession, Milan couldn't score more than the one goal if their lives depended on it.

It certainly wasn't pretty

There was, however, still some time for a bit of madness. Success put his shoulder into Maignan as he was trying to clear the ball, there was a scuffle, and the Udinese sub pushed Florenzi to the ground. He was shown a straight red by Fourneau, and sent for an early shower. So Udinese dropped two points and were down to ten men, with another suspension, with only two minutes left to play. I guess it wasn't the greatest night for either team, but with Inter and Napoli playing tomorrow, we could see ourselves drop from first to third place just because of another 90 minutes of a lack of concentration. A draw for them was much better, considering they just sacked their manager this week. But at least we didn't sustain any new injuries (as of this writing) for the first match in a while that I can remember. That is almost as good as three points.

Two points lost? Or one more injury avoided?

A lot of fans are going into hopeless abandon mode, but I have faith. I believe that our injury tsunami should turn to mild flooding now that we are not playing every three days, even if Kjaer is still a devastating loss for both his leadership and skills. Maybe that is optimistic, because so many of our injuries were freak injuries this year. But I do believe. I also believe that the mentality will improve, especially when there is actual competition for starting spots again, and the pressure is lightened by playing fewer games. Maybe I am wrong, but I really believe that this performance came down to physical and mental exhaustion.

This post inspired by the music of The Smiths' "These Things Take Time"

Our next match is
Serie A Week 18
Milan vs. Napoli
Sunday, December 19 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Udinese 1, Milan 1: Mental Exhaustion Udinese 1, Milan 1: Mental Exhaustion Reviewed by Elaine on 11:00 PM Rating: 5
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