Milan 1, Verona 0: After the Storm

This match very nearly did not happen. After heavy rain and hail, the San Siro pitch was waterlogged, and the pitch did not pass inspection at the 3pm kickoff time. However, Marchetti, the referee, wisely delayed kickoff time 25 minutes, and by then, the water had drained enough that the surface was playable. Much like the storm of criticism Milan, Pioli, and Rafa Leão specifically faced this week, even a 1-0 win over Verona and all three points were like sunlight viewed through water droplets. No, I don't just mean the colorful third kits the team wore. I mean like the unicorns-and-rainbows level of happiness after something really tough, or at least the rainbow after the storm.

Like a rainbow... if a rainbow could score goals like Rafa Leão.

Muscle fatigue for both Theo Hernández and Calabria left them unavailable and forced Pioli to change his system to a 3-4-3 on Friday and also change his starting lineup, perhaps more than he intended. With Maignan also out, that looked like: Sportiello; Thiaw, Kjaer, Tomori; Musah, Krunić; Reijnders, Florenzi; Pulisic, Giroud, and Rafa Leão. Because of both the captain and vice captain being out, as well as some unfounded harsh criticism of him in the Italian media this week, Rafa Leão was unanimously chosen to wear the armband for this one.

Leão used his turbo speed to create and scoree the goal.  

He did not disappoint. In just the eighth minute, he used his speed and dazzling skills to run on his own into the box, where he did not miss, even with a couple of defenders who nearly caught him. 1-0 Milan. Despite the Italian media's view of him, this was Leão's first time scoring in three consecutive matches in Serie A, according to OptaPaolo.Sportiello provided a nice save on Terracciano in the 20th minute, Thiaw made a tackle that actually looked like he got the ball, but he raised his arms and complained when the ref blew his whistle, so he was shown a yellow for dissent.

Another muscle injury, this one for Krunić

The second half, Milan were less convincing, and Verona tried to capitalize on this. However, the result was yellow cards for Musah and Pulisic on the pitch, and Pioli and Florenzi off the pitch. Krunić also suffered an apparent muscle injury, and Musah gave a scare near the end of regulation as well. The sheer number of muscle injuries seems to be even worse than usual, just five league matches into the season, and Milan have had a lot of muscle injuries in recent years.

Sportiello is a proper deputy for Maignan.

Pioli's subs were Jović and Loftus-Cheek on for Giroud and the injured Krunić in the 65th minute. Then the young Bartesaghi made his debut for Florenzi in the 75th minute. At the other end of the spectrum, Kjaer played his 100th match for Milan against Verona. And finally, in the 80th, he sent Pobega and Okafor on for Leão. The good news is that this time, the subs did seem to help make some impact, which is what the whole reinforcement plan was supposed to be about this summer. 

Musah did really well, even in the new system.

The Americans were on target in the second half, as Pulisic had a shot on saved in the 72nd minute and Musah had a shot saved in the 86th. However, Milan only took nine shots in all, even if four of those were on target. Somewhere between last week's 25 shots and this week's nine, they should find a happy medium. And maybe convert more than just one, too.

Tomori was on fire this week.

The match itself was largely one to forget. But at least they looked amazing while playing. That cerulean color of the shorts and socks is perfection. I recognize that these new third kits, which I talked about in detail in the match preview, are not traditional or even the kind of kit many people prefer. But all of the other kits ever made are made for you people. These kits were made not only to celebrate diversity and inclusion, but to be a kit for the other fans. The fans for whom none of the other kits are made for. And for those of us who understand fashion, too. They are also far more flattering and pleasant to look at than last year's split pea puke third kits.

Nothing like getting some encouragement from the captain on your San Siro debut.

While this wasn't a dream match, it was three points and a clean sheet while missing some very important players. It was also a much-needed win for mentality. Probably more for the Italian media and fans on social media than the team, but needed nonetheless. The match itself was not pretty, but getting the win was like a beautiful rainbow after the storm.

This post inspired by the music of The Rolling Stone's "She's Like A Rainbow"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 6
Cagliari vs. Milan
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 • 18:30 CEST (12:30pm EDT)

Milan 1, Verona 0: After the Storm Milan 1, Verona 0: After the Storm Reviewed by Elaine on 4:31 AM Rating: 5
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