Cremonese 0, Milan 0: Running on Fumes

Pioli has found Milan's threshold for grinta, and missing eight players after playing every three to four games for weeks seems to have used every last drop of blood and sweat these players have. With so many players out, he actually switched his system, playing a three man backline, which did not go as badly as you might expect. In fact, by the end of the first half, Milan were almost looking like themselves again. But they did not have enough left in the tank for the second half, and the match ended in a very disappointing 0-0 draw. This team is running on fumes.

Running on empty.

As discussed on the last podcast, losing both Theo Hernández and Giroud to suspension after Saturday's costly win over Spezia was too much for this already beleaguered squad. Because of the players missing, Pioli was forced to make tactical changes, bringing in Thiaw for his first start to play a three man back line. If you do not think that absences impact a squad, consider this: in a squad with ten defenders, he only had Kalulu and Gabbia available from the bench.

Thiaw did well on his first start, but was unable to score with his shot on target

It took about 15 minutes for the guys to really find their footing in the new shape, but when they did, they actually were connecting well and creating opportunities despite Cremonese's intensive marking. Rebić has not been scoring since he returned from injury, but he has been a workhorse, and had a couple of nice tackles and steals tonight that were fun to watch.

Origi had a great chance one on one with the keeper after Rebić had stolen the ball in the 26th, but Carnesecchi had an incredible save to deny him. Thiaw had a great header ten minutes later, also saved. Messias had a strike from distance in the 40th that the young backup keeper also saved. In the match preview, I had lamented the fact that Radu would not be starting against us after his heroics playing for Inter against Bologna last season. But it turns out that we probably would have fared much better against him than this wonderkid keeper.

Rebić in soldier mode

The second half would be most challenging for Rapuano, who would give out seven yellow cards, and could have probably handed out another card or two because things got so physical. In the 56th, Origi actually scored a goal, but after a VAR review, he was judged to have been offside, and the goal was called back. After that, it was mainly a parade of substitutions and cards.

Leão and Kalulu were brought on in the 60th for Origi and Thiaw. Leão had one great shot in the 68th, forcing a more impressive save from the young Carnesecchi. He was being marked so tightly that his shirt was constantly being held, and someone's blood was even all over it. But when he went to protest to Rapuano in the 78th, he was only rewarded with a yellow card for his troubles.

A shame Origi's goal did not stand

De Ketelaere replaced Brahim Diaz in the 74th, then Lazetić and Krunić replaced Rebić and Tonali in the 83rd. I was sad for Tonali, this was his 100th appearance in all competitions, and was definitely not a match he would want to remember. But I was thrilled for Lazetić to make his first appearance of the season for the first team after a brilliant hat trick he scored for the Primavera on Sunday. He also helped them in the UEFA Youth League and after an injury, has begun to score for them with some consistency, so earned his ten minutes of fame tonight for sure.

Lazetić was motivated, but was unable to make an impact in his 10 minutes

Of course, then Lazetić went and got a yellow card alongside a former Milan player we had loaned from Torino, Meïté, for something that apparently happened off camera in the 87th. De Ketelaere would also get a yellow card for a bad tackle in stoppage time. Along with some errant shots to finish the match, it was a dismal second half. Milan had 73% possession overall in the match and took 16 shots, five on target, but between Cremonese's tight defending and Carnesecchi's man of the match goalkeeping performance, it remained scoreless. And now we have given Napoli an eight point lead on the table, too.

Pioli's watertight mentality is showing some cracks after three years of playing with so many injuries. It is not only the physical absence of so many important players for so many matches. Having so many soldiers down will affect the mentality of the strongest army as well. Tonight, however, we also dearly missed Theo and Giroud. 

Not the kind of match Tonali would want to remember for his 100th

A simple mistake of getting caught up in a celebration after being on a yellow meant that we didn't have our most consistent scorer to come off the bench and pull out another winner like he did on Saturday. Theo's many cards earlier in the season meant he wasn't available to turn on the rocket speed and leave the Cremonese players in the dust to give us those scoring chances that are impossible to defend. We are at the point that after all of the injuries, missing just two more players due to suspension left us running on fumes.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage's "Fix Me Now"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 15
Milan vs. Fiorentina
Sunday, November 13 • 18:00 CET (12noon EST)

Cremonese 0, Milan 0: Running on Fumes Cremonese 0, Milan 0: Running on Fumes Reviewed by Elaine on 10:30 PM Rating: 5
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