What It Means to Be Milan

Milan played their first friendly after a short vacation Thursday. While they finally won 3-2 against Serie D side Lumezzane, it took them a while to remember what it means to be Milan. Meanwhile, off the pitch in the past week or so, we have seen the character of Milan in sharp contrast to other clubs. While Juventus, for example, are imploding in a self-made scandal, Pioli went to a retirement home to share some Christmas cheer, was also awarded for his sportsmanship, while Gabbia and Pobega visited children with cancer, and Maldini and Massara were serving meals to the less fortunate. They all showed by example what it means to be Milan.

Maldini and Massara serving the less fortunate epitomizes what it means to be Milan

Milan 3, Lumezzane 2

The friendly was really barely more than a training friendly, played at Milanello. With so many players still gone due to international duty, Pioli's lineup was quite different than we would normally see. He also changed formation to a 3-5-2, probably primarily due to a lack of any available starting fullbacks:

Tatarusanu; Bakoune, Gabbia, Tomori; Adli, Pobega, Tonali, Vranckx, Krunić; Rebić, and Origi.

The first half saw them start quite sluggishly. It was almost as if they had all been on vacation for nearly a month or something. Lumezzane, who are still midseason, took advantage of this and scored, making it 1-0 for the visitors at the half. Slowly, though, Milan began creating more chances, looking increasingly more dangerous by the halftime whistle.

Adli took the opportunity to show what he could do

At the half, Pioli brought Mirante on for Tatarusanu. In the 51st, Adli showed his quality and dribbled around multiple defenders to shoot past Pisone, the Lumezzane keeper, and score the equalizer. 1-1 all. His celebration was short-lived, however, as Mattia Mauri sent one curling into the top right corner past Mirante just three minutes later. 2-1 Lumezzane. 

Milan were definitely playing better, but not scoring with their chances. Pioli subbed nine (mostly Primavera) players on in the 61st, leaving only Mirante and the young Bakoune (the only one to start the match) on. The players who came on were:

Kalulu, Thiaw, Bozzolan, Foglio, Gala, Victor Eletu, Alesi, Al Hilali, and Lazetić.

Victor Eletu signed a contract and then scored the winner for Milan the next day

The young players took just a few minutes to find their footing, and then Alesi equalized once again for Milan in the 68th to make it 2-2. With the halves being only 40 minutes, it seemed that this one might end in a draw. But that was not enough for Victor Eletu, who had apparently just signed his first professional contract with Milan the previous day. He remembered what it means to be Milan in the 78th and scored the winner to see this one end 3-2 for the home side.

A Manager and a Gentleman

Pioli Acknowledged

On Monday, Pioli received the Gentlemen Allenatore Gigi Simoni award for 2021-22. This award was created in honor of Simoni, a coach who passed away two years ago, to honor the managers who exemplified not only technical skills, but also the positive values of football and fair play. The award was voted on by all of the managers of Serie B.

During the ceremony, Pioli recalled having faced off against the former manager only once, but was honored to be associated with his reputation:

"I am proud and honored to receive this award, because Gigi Simoni has always been a point of reference, and I can only be pleased that someone thinks that I have, even in the slightest portion, these values."

Pioli visits with a resident of the Fondazione Pontirola retirement home

Humanitarian Visits

Pioli had a busy week after resuming training and looking toward leaving for Dubai for ten days. He also visited the Fondazione Pontirola retirement home in Assago to bring some Christmas cheer, along with a toast and some pandoro and panettone for all. He was not simply making an appearance, he was genuinely engaged with the residents and truly interested in their life experiences. Yet again, he demonstrated the character of what it means to be Milan.

Pobega took time to play video games with one of the pediatric cancer patients

Following their manager's example, Gabbia and Pobega and some of the Rossonere players visited the pediatric oncology unit of the local cancer hospital in the Lombardy region. They not only brought Christmas greetings and gifts to the children to lift their spirits, but they also spent time with them and played with them, despite preparing to leave for ten days for their warm winter training.

Gabbia gives a young patient a toy to brighten his day

Perhaps the most impressive, however, was the visit that Maldini and Massara made to the Opera San Francesco last week in Milano. In their volunteer for a day program, they learned about the benevolent Opera San Francesco, an operation that Maldini noted was just hundreds of meters from where he was born. At this charity organization, those who have fallen on hard times or are less fortunate can have a hot meal, a hot shower, and a change of clothes, all given with warmth, love, and human kindness.

The directors of Milan with the directors of Opera San Francesco

A week ago Friday, many of those 2,000 people per day that are fed six days per week by the volunteers at Opera San Francesco were actually served meals by Milan's technical and sporting directors. The President, Friar Marcello Longhi, expressed his gratitude: "I am happy to see how Milanese sport at the highest levels supports and shares our commitments to the poor." Because at Milan, even the top directors are humble enough to literally serve those in need. That is what it means to be Milan.

Milan's Season... Part 2... Preseason... Again

With an interruption to the season as unprecedented as COVID, yet completely preventable and unnecessary, this bizarre year has been dissected into two very distinct parts. Part one left Milan in second place on the table behind Napoli, with ten wins, three draws, and two losses. In the Champions League, Milan also qualified for the Round of 16 for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Then the season was rudely interrupted by FIFA and a bunch of money.

Giroud showed what it means to be Milan by becoming France's all-time leading scorer

After a short vacation period for many of the players, most of the team returned to Milanello a week ago Friday to resume training. This past Thursday's training friendly was a warmup for the 10 day trip to Dubai, which will feature a warm winter training and allow Milan to participate in the Dubai Super Cup.

In addition to the obvious opportunity to interact with the fans and the media, there are rumors of a potential announcement of a new deal with shirt sponsor Emirates. For fans around the globe, though, there will be two friendlies against Arsenal and Liverpool that will allow us to watch our team ramp up again for the second part of the season, which will commence on January 4th, 2023.

Leão has  impressed, scoring 2 goals in only 62 minutes for Portugal

The friendlies will be interesting, as there are still three Milan players at the World Cup, Leão, Giroud, and Theo Hernãndez. Additionally, most of the players who represented their national teams will be joining the squad in Dubai at staggered dates: Kjaer, De Ketelaere, and Dest. Also, Calabria and Maignan are working toward full recovery very soon. Despite missing many of our best players, it is hoped that we will not embarrass ourselves too much in these friendly matches. That might actually work out, if only the players can remember what it means to be Milan.

While other the directors of other clubs are desperately seeking legal advice and potentially spending their last Christmas at home with loved ones ahead of probable jail time, Milan observed a peaceful transfer of CEOs this week as Giorgio Furlani took over from the departing Ivan Gazidis. Contrast this, along with all of the goodwill and acts of actual service from the top of the organization down through the players, and it truly demonstrates what it means to be Milan.

This post dedicated to the life and work of Grant Wahl, may he rest in peace.

Our next match is a Friendly
Dubai Super Cup
Arsenal FC vs. AC Milan
Tuesday, December 13 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)
This match can be streamed LIVE on the Milan App and YouTube channels

What It Means to Be Milan What It Means to Be Milan Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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