Inter 1, Milan 0: The Reckoning

The only thing I hate worse in this world than Inter is losing to Inter. For that reason, last week's match was still burning a hole in my soul before this one even kicked off. Particularly since we started that match playing so poorly. Tonight, losing 1-0 to this overrated group of thugs and traitors whose bankrupt owner has maxed out all of his credit and is about to default hurt a little less. Part of the reason was that we played better tonight. Part of it was that it finally put us out of our misery. But I think mostly, it was just a relief to show that this €86 million per year squad truly could not compete with teams that make €132m per year or more. Tonight was The Reckoning.

Two heroes alone do not a Champions League final squad make

As for the match itself, Milan started out in this one much better. It helped so much that the referee, Turpin, actually knew how to use his whistle. That actually prevented any serious injuries, unlike last week, when we had Bennacer, Messias, and Krunić all injured. While Messias and Krunić both recovered enough to start tonight, they were clearly not 100%. Meanwhile, Bennacer had surgery this morning and will be out for at least six months. I really did not think I could hate Calhanoglu any more, but I found out that I could. (He is the one who injured him last week.)

Losing Bennacer for 6 months+ was a horrific price to pay for playing these matches

Brahim Díaz was given the best chance of scoring for Milan in just the 11th minute, but he did not get enough power on it, and Onana was able to save it. He is so frustrating, because the guy works twice as hard to make up for his diminutive size, and there is no doubt he has talent. But he is so often overpowered physically, it is a massive handicap for us when he plays in the middle like that. His lack of physicality completely cuts off our supply to the attackers. And he often lacks awareness of his teammates, but rather makes quick, foolish decisions that cost us possession. He is a really nice guy, but if Real Madrid want him back, I am happy to make room on the roster for a new player.

Love his talent, commitment and workrate, but we need more than he is capable of giving us

Thiaw proved he was the muscle we were looking for in defense, making some great clearances, including in the 25th minute. Dumfries and Theo Hernández resumed their hate-hate working relationship, although neither was carded tonight. Dumfries did dive into Theo's boot in the 32nd, though, and required treatment. In the 38th, Leão, who also was not at all 100%, got his best chance, but shot it just wide. In the 39th, Calhanoglu whipped in a powerful free kick that Džeko just helped with his head, but Maignan made a brilliant save to keep the match scoreless. In the 43rd, Mkhitaryan had to be subbed off with an apparent muscle injury.

Džeko submits to the strength of a player almost half his age

The Derby heated up in the 51st with Lautaro fouling Thiaw (again) and Messias fouling Calhanoglu (again,) but no cards yet. A minute later, completely off the ball, Acerbi maliciously stomped on Tonali's foot. I did not hear Inzaghi whining about that non-call. Five minutes later, Thiaw finally picked up the first card for fouling Lautaro Martínez. A bit ironic, as the Inter striker had been all over him all night, but it was the right call on this one. A few minutes later, Thiaw apparently cramped up or had some issue, and was subbed off for Kalulu.

Former Milan player and lifelong Milanista, Acerbi, did not make his father proud tonight, he was a true Interista

In the 70th, Leão got the ball into the area, but Messias could not get there to finish it off. Shortly thereafter, Giroud showed that his jersey had been reimagined by some serious Inter contact, and now featured air conditioning down one side. He had to actually change his shirt to replace the torn one, but there were no calls for anything, of course. Once again, he was isolated and brutalized, not able to see much of the ball or take many chances.

Just like his renewal, Leão's shot was so close, but not quite

Shortly after that, Lautaro Martínez broke through and scored the goal. 1-0 Inter. You have to wonder if Thiaw would have stopped it, had he still been on instead of Kalulu. But we will never know, and it really isn't important. We were down two goals anyway. Pioli finally made some subs in the 76th, but he didn't really have anyone on his bench to make an impact. What were Origi and Saelemaekers supposed to do, serve cookies? Everyone knows our attack has been incredibly limited this season, and reinforcements are needed so badly. These subs were part of The Reckoning - they demonstrated yet again how badly we need proper investments.

These matches will be burned in Tonali's memory, and he will come back for Inter blood next season

In the 81st, Krunić made a Krunić-style challenge on Calhanoglu that earned him a yellow card. It also started a bit of a Derby brawl, during which both Tomori and Lautaro Martínez did some shoving. They were both carded as well, as Turpin quickly got the match under control again. In the 90th, Theo showed his love for Dumfries again by gently wrapping his arms around him and tumbling to the ground in the throes of passion. But it was not enough for a card for Turpin.

Krunić repaid Calhanoglu... a little, but probably more because he was not 100% (and he was actually carded)

That was basically it. Milan were held to five chances, only one on target. The disparity between the two benches was the biggest gap, even bigger than the difference between the two starting lineups. I very much look forward to watching that wretched Inter side get destroyed by whichever team manages to win the other semifinal, as the disparity in finances and quality there is at least as much as ours was tonight. Also praying to the football gods that Lukaku scores another own goal for them to lose, like he did in the Europa League final. (I need to stock up on popcorn.) Inter think they have accomplished something amazing, but once again, they have stepped on the backs of those who were suffering more to try to claim greatness. They did not win this tie as much as Milan lost it.

The €86 million team that went further than anyone expected

Maldini's comments post match were a lesson in humility and class. It was painful to watch him have to say those things. He also talked about his project, which is reportedly shared by the owners. He specifically mentioned that he could have bought Dybala last summer, which would have brought some short-term success (and injuries,) but the Club is looking to build a long-term project with young players that will pay dividends in terms of both success and financial gain down the road. Dybala would have been another quick, big spend, and then a loss when he was too old or too injured or simply left. (There are still issues to be resolved with those criminals Juventus, for example.) He is not a player that would make us a profit at this point.

Maldini's comments may have been misunderstood by some fans, but he has been consistent since day one

Despite losing to those lecherous, cheating brutes from the other side of Milano, I realized that losing the semifinal was okay. We are in great shape financially, finally projected to make a profit this year due to our Champions League success. We are just about the only big club in Italy not facing any capital gains or other criminal charges. Our fans did not commit any heinous acts of violence or other crimes to embarrass us this season. In fact, they have been the best, supporting our players for 90 plus minutes every match, rallying around them when they were needed most. 

If the ownership and management are actually in sync and can do what they are talking about this summer, and invest properly to truly improve the squad (including convincing some of our... ahem... less-talented players to leave,) then we truly are ready to make the jump next year to compete on multiple fronts. Instead of being depressed about the loss, I am a bit nervous about qualifying for next year's Champions League. But if we can do that, I feel like we will actually be in better shape than any of the other big clubs in Italy. This summer will truly be The Reckoning.

This post inspired by the music of Käärijä's "Cha Cha Cha"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 36
Milan vs. Sampdoria
Saturday, May 20, 2023 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

Inter 1, Milan 0: The Reckoning Inter 1, Milan 0: The Reckoning Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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