Sassuolo 0, Milan 0: Heavy Metal

Milan have had exactly three subpar performances since the preseason, and they were all wearing the new white away kit. Tonight, it was a goalless draw away to Sassuolo. Despite a phenomenal mentality that Pioli has created, and an away record last season in which they only dropped 11 points all season long, they have dropped four of six possible away points already. Has Puma's concept to tie Milan's Champions League heritage to the white away shirt made the shirt too heavy? Why not just tie seven actual trophies to the players's chests and ask them to play? Was this match even more difficult given the recent history of winning the Scudetto at this stadium? Is Milan's mentality being dragged down by heavy metal?

Maignan calling upon the goalkeeping gods

The first half opened up with sparks between Florenzi and Rogério right away, an indication of things to come. Pobega came close to opening up the scoresheet and impressing on his first start for the club he has played for since he was a youth in 2013. After a couple of other shots not on target, Kyriakopoulos was fouled in the box and a penalty was given. Not sure who the penalty was called on, because actually, both Saelemaekers and Florenzi both fouled him. (Should he have been awarded two penalties?) But it was absolutely a penalty every day of the week, which VAR confirmed.

A strong first start for the Milan youth product, too bad about the heavy shirt

Milan's nemesis, Berardi, who has personally scored 10 goals against Milan in his career, stepped up to take the penalty. And Maignan saved it. I thank my lucky stars every day that he came to Milan, he is such an amazing goalkeeper. Our captain for the day, Theo Hernández, received his requisite yellow early on, in the 27th minute, for a foul on Berardi. Saelemaekers earned his for a foul on Rogério in the 43rd.

Epic penalty save

What happened in the second half was heartbreaking, even if it involved our nemesis. Berardi was running clear on goal and Theo fouled him from behind. Had it not been for the linesman being quick and efficient and having already raised the offside flag on Berardi, our captain would have been sent off. But the real tragedy was that Berardi was injured by the foul. After receiving treatment, he was helped off the pitch and actually carried to the dressing room. This away kit curse is also cursing our opposition, first with Djimsiti injured at Atalanta, and now Berardi at Sassuolo.

The question this brought up for me was: Should Theo be wearing the armband? I know he has earned it by right of seniority, but is he the leader we need? He gets so many cards and loses his temper relatively easily. Even in this situation, it was Kjaer who went over to console Berardi, not Theo. Just some food for thought. Hope Berardi's injury is not serious.

Theo looks like a leader prematch, but gets a little too hotheaded during the match

Maignan had a save on Thorstvedt, one of three that he made this evening, whereas Milan only had two shots on target, so Consigli had a slightly easier evening. Then Pioli started with the subs, hoping to make an impact. He brought on De Ketelaere, Tonali, and Messias for Brahim Díaz, Pobega, and Saelemaekers. And then, as if our injuries weren't starting to stack up already, Maignan fell awkwardly and needed a bit of treatment, which was absolutely terrifying, especially considering the Derby on Saturday.

Pioli did everything to try to unlock the game while also trying to rotate where he could. He brought on Adli for Giroud and played De Ketelaere as a false nine. He brought on Kalulu for Kjaer, who had started for the first time in nine months since his injury and surgery and looked fantastic. But no one could break the deadlock, not even the best we had available.

He always gives 110%, and that extra 10% was too much this time

In the 89th, facing seven minutes of stoppage time, Florenzi pulled up with what looks to be a serious muscle injury. He had to come off, leaving Milan on ten men because there were no subs left. But also, a serious injury. That makes three of our more experienced players out with long-term injuries now just as we are jumping into the Champions League group stage and such a condensed schedule.

Leão's final shot in the 94th was saved by Consigli, and represented Milan's overall efforts in this match. – they were simply not enough. I am generally not a superstitious person, but it is seriously disconcerting to me that we have won every match except the three played in these kits. Sure, Atalanta and Sassuolo were tough opponents, but how do you explain the Hungary match preseason

So great to have our Viking back in the starting 11

I will admit that the truth is more likely in the way the opposition teams played, all very physical and effective at disrupting our style of play, causing us to lose focus and play more frantically, which would account for being held to only 11 shots total in this match, for example. It is particularly unfortunate that Pioli's plan to rotate Giroud and Leão was hindered by the minor injuries to Rebić and Origi, because Giroud especially looked like he could have used the rest today ahead of the Derby on Saturday. 

But actual facts aside, I'm sticking to my conspiracy theory about the kits and the weight of history, because as Pioli always says, mentality is the most significant factor in football. These kits, and this pitch in particular, weighed down Milan's mentality like some kind of heavy metal.

This post inspired by the music of Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 5
il Derby della Madonnina
Milan vs. Inter
Saturday, September 3 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)

Sassuolo 0, Milan 0: Heavy Metal Sassuolo 0, Milan 0: Heavy Metal Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.