Milan 1, Cremonese 1: Sucker Punched

This match from start to finish felt like an assault on the senses. Pioli made seven changes to his starting lineup. They almost held their own against the 19th place team, at least in the first half. But 98 minutes, 18 shots with five on target for Milan later, Milan only came up with one point in the 1-1 draw. I could almost excuse that on Saturday, away to Roma. But not at home vs. Cremonese. Then, five minutes before the final whistle, a Cremonese player actually punched Tonali in the face and got sent off. The whole match was just that brutal. Instead of getting a football match, I got sucker punched.

When you get punched in the face and still have to fight for a result.

First, there was the Saelemaekers goal in the 11th minute. Last time we met Cremonese, it would have stood. But thanks to SemiAutomated Offside Technology (SAOT,) it was determined that 1/3 of the Belgian's bad haircut was offside, so the goal was called back. You people who could not handle human refereeing alone and wanted this technology, I blame you for these ridiculously tight calls. Then there was some physical humor when Vranckx collided with Cremonese manager Ballardini on the sideline. Not even enough for comic relief.

He scored, but technology took the goal away.

But mostly, more 'almosts' for the Shakespearean tragedy that is poor De Ketelaere's season. He has to be the unluckiest young player ever to wear the Milan shirt since Pato and his injuries. Then there was Calabria, who was fouled really hard by Lochosvilli just outside the penalty are in the 40th minute, so VAR could not intervene to help head ref Pairetto out to make the right call. Saelemaekers fouled Vásquez in the 42nd and then almost got in a fight with him. That was pretty much the first half.

Seeing this dreadful situation, and knowing we needed three points more than life itself, Pioli thought that Krunić was the answer, so replaced Bennacer with his favorite player at halftime. For the record, I am a fan of Krunić, but we needed so much more than him at that point. So in the 62nd, Pioli brought on Leão for De Ketelaere, and Giroud for Origi. Then Messias for Saelemaekers and Tonali for Vranckx in the 75th.

Messias took a free kick that salvaged a point, and no one even felt like celebrating.

Two minutes later, Okereke got Kalulu and Thiaw to imitate cartoon characters, tangling each other up and going to ground while he marched in and scored on a helpless Maignan. 1-0 Cremonese. Talk about feeling sucker punched. 

It was difficult to say which was flying higher or faster - the cards or the Milan shots well off target. But in the 92nd, Vásquez fouled Messias, earning Milan a free kick. Messias took that free kick, which Vásquez deflected in for him. 1-1 all. The goal was apparently given to Messias, but no one really felt like celebrating. 

When denial hits you in the gut.

Things were getting ugly, and a minute later, Pickel elbowed Tonali than swung his other arm around and punched him in the face. After a VAR review, which Pairetto checked himself, Pickel was shown a straight red, leaving Cremonese on ten men. Ironically, they also had a player, Quagliata, suspended tonight for punching a Verona player in the stomach in their last match. Apparently, sucker punches are a part of their tactics.

Needless to say, despite a total of three yellow cards and the red for Cremonese, and six shots, two on target, and only 26% possession for the Grigiorossi, Milan hardly came away from this match looking like a team competing for top four. Pioli had a lot of very specific criticisms of the players postmatch, but did not really address his culpability in rotating too many players. Again. For the Curva Sud, who specifically supported De Ketelaere and were absolutely phenomenal in their vocal support once again from start to finish, it had to feel like a betrayal to sit through that match. It just feels like we were all sucker punched.

This post inspired by the music of NIN's "Hurt"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 34
Milan vs. Lazio
Saturday, May 6, 2023 • 15:00 CEST (9am EDT)

Milan 1, Cremonese 1: Sucker Punched Milan 1, Cremonese 1: Sucker Punched Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.