Milan 4, Udinese 2: Still Hungry

Ahead of this match, the club put together a promo that advertised that the "Champions are still hungry." Despite conceding two goals on set pieces, their opening match seemed to prove that point. Pioli's system and the mentality he has created means that even if errors are made or someone is having a subpar performance, others will step it up and make it happen. That's what Champions do. And as Udinese found out, Milan are definitely Champions, and they are definitely still hungry.

Milan are coming for more

In a repeat of the friendly match at Vicenza, Milan conceded a very early goal. This one was from a corner, and it was Becão, who is a bit of a curse for Milan. 1-0 Udinese. Just five minutes later, however, things took a very different turn, as Calabria went down in pain after contact with Soppy in the box. Last year, the referee would have just whistled to play on. But Marinelli forgot that narrative, or maybe Inter couldn't afford to pay the refs this year since their shirt sponsors have not paid them. Not only did VAR review the play, but he actually went over to the screen and reviewed it himself. This was clearly not last year at all. 

After a thorough review, Soppy was awarded a yellow card, and Milan were awarded a penalty. Theo Hernández stepped up and took that penalty against both Silvestri and his cornrows that he is still clinging to this season for some reason. Theo's hair won, the penalty was perfect, and Milan were level, 1-1 all. 

Cool as you like.

A few minutes later, just to emphasize a point, Brahim Díaz set up a play for Calabria to cross the ball in to Rebić, who struck it on the volley and past the cornrows again to make it 2-1 Milan. Whether it was Brahim's desire to demonstrate leadership and show what it means to play at San Siro in front of over 70,000 fans, or if he decided that with both De Ketelaere and Adli competing for his spot, he needed to step it up, he had one of the best games of his Milan career. He was everywhere.

After a cooling break, Kalulu had a brilliant tackle to shut down Deulofeu in the 28th. Krunić got the requisite Milan yellow card with a matching card for Becão in the 34th, one of four for Udinese. Maignan was called into action to save a shot from Success. Then, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, another header, this time from newcomer Masina to allow Udinese to draw level, 2-2 all. 

The Rebić we know and love dominated tonight

This makes an interesting point. Sottil and Udinese's sporting director Pierpaolo Marino both complained about the penalty call and/or VAR review. Those who understand refereeing would have given that penalty, particularly with the advantage of VAR review, every time (except for maybe last season when Milan were given no penalties at all from January forward, despite earning quite a few.) The point, though, is that without the delay caused by the VAR review and penalty, Udinese never would have scored their second goal, which was scored deep in stoppage time that was created by... wait for it... the VAR review and penalty. You literally cannot have it both ways.

Show him some serious love for this one

Brahim Díaz's personal mission to stay in consideration for a starting spot as the number 10 included a goal in the first minute of the second half, assisted by an error by Nahuen Perez. 3-2 Milan. There were chances from Messias, a Theo Hernández free kick that went just over, and then Messias sent in a ball meant for Leão, who just couldn't quite get there. It seemed that maybe he and Maignan were slightly off, probably a little dazed after being nominated for Ballon d'Or awards on Friday.

Already such a complete and talented player

That did not stop the Brahim Díaz and Ante Rebić show, however. In the 68th, Brahim nutmegged Nuytinck to set up Rebić perfectly, who slotted it home for his second on the night, 4-2 Milan. His celebration was golden, too. Shortly thereafter, we saw Saelemaekers and Giroud come on, as well as the debut of De Ketelaere.

With so much talk about his elegant play, he showed his intelligence and work ethic in this one, going after every ball and making runs and passes that no one else thought of. This seemed to inspire his compatriot, Saelemaekers to try his hand at shooting, which is rarely a good idea, and did not go well on any of the attempts. Their fellow Belgian, Origi also made his debut in the 84th and also looked solid, naturally prowling alongside Giroud up front in what looks like a much more menacing attack this year.

Another Belgian had his debut, showing experience we can count on

De Ketelaere would have had a dream start in the 89th, having put the ball in the back of the net, but the whistle had blown for Origi being offside just before he struck the ball, so the goal did not count. A terrible shame, but I cannot be greedy. He clearly has plenty of goals in those feet to share with us in the future. Maignan was on high alert, as credit to Udinese, they never stopped attacking, and he made a total of four saves on the evening. 

This was not a perfect performance, Milan are still young and have a lot to learn. However, it was a dominating performance in which, even when they went down a goal right away, Milan were never really in question. Udinese certainly put up a good fight, but Milan's consistency and mentality are going to make them the team to beat this season. The Champions are still hungry.


This post inspired by the music of Queen's "We Are the Champions"


Our next match is 
Serie A Week 2
Atalanta vs. Milan
Sunday, August 21 • 11:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

Milan 4, Udinese 2: Still Hungry Milan 4, Udinese 2: Still Hungry Reviewed by Elaine on 11:58 PM Rating: 5
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