FC Salzburg 1, AC Milan 1: Neutralized

Milan have developed a reputation for being a young, fast, and attacking team in Serie A. It turns out that the best way to neutralize a team like that is to play a team that is even younger, and also fast and attacking. That is exactly the kind of team that Salzburg have, and it worked like a charm for pretty much 90 minutes at their sold out Red Bull stadium, despite having 1,500 very loud Milan supporters in attendance. At full time, a 1-1 draw was all Milan could manage, they were basically neutralized.

You know you're in trouble when your only goal comes from Saelemaekers

Salzburg came out shooting, but nothing on target. Milan followed suit at the other end until the 8th minute, when Giroud shot straight at Köhn, who easily saved it. Bennacer had an effort saved ten minutes later, but it was Salzburg who broke the deadlock ten minutes after that, when Bennacer was dispossessed, Kalulu fell, and Okafor nutmegged Maignan to make it 1-0 for Salzburg.

Ten minutes later, Tomori earned a yellow for a tackle on Okafor. Then the miracle happened. Leão sent the ball in to Saelemaekers, probably thinking it was someone else, but the Belgian actually shot on target. And scored. His first Champions League goal. 1-1 all. He is truly unpredictable. Calabria rounded out the half with a yellow of his own for a foul on Ulmer.

On target when no one else was

The second half saw Maignan forced into action by Fernando. Then Pioli brought on Origi for Giroud; Pobega made his Champions League debut, replacing Bennacer; and Dest made his Milan debut, replacing Calabria, who did not seem thrilled with life (or being subbed – but he was on a yellow.) If Milan's shortcoming on the evening was getting yellow cards, Salzburg got the short end of the stick with injuries, having a player injured before the match, and two players injured during the game.

Shots continued, Milan would take 14 in all, but only three were on target. Brahim Díaz replaced De Ketelaere in the 70th, then Messias replaced Saelemaekers, who earned the Man of the Match award, in the 80th minute. Brahim Díaz got a yellow in the 89th minute for a foul on Gourna-Douath, then Origi earned a yellow for fouling Pavlović and then some in stoppage time. Leão took one final shot in the 94th that was deflected and hit the post, it was so close to a game winner, but no avail.

Leão was heavily marked the entire match and had trouble making an impact

Despite having a whopping 65% possession, Salzburg were younger and maybe even faster than Milan at times. As Pioli mentioned in his postmatch press conference, some of the players had not fully recovered from the Derby, and that probably made a difference as well. But the biggest regret beyond not being able to find the winner will be those four yellow cards, which could easily come back to haunt us later in the group stage.

Gaining a point does not look as bad when you look at the table after Dinamo Zagreb beat Chelsea 1-0, leaving them bottom of the group. But ideally, Milan would have taken all three points in this one if possible, since their goal is to definitely progress out of the group. Ironically, the Primavera also drew 1-1 with Salzburg's U19 side earlier in the day in the UEFA Youth League, so maybe it was fate. Or maybe Milan just met their football dopplegänger and were neutralized.

This post inspired by the music of Muse's "Sing for Absolution"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 6
Sampdoria vs. Milan
Saturday, September 10 • 11:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

FC Salzburg 1, AC Milan 1: Neutralized FC Salzburg 1, AC Milan 1: Neutralized Reviewed by Elaine on 12:15 AM Rating: 5
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