Milan 3, Monza 0: A Walk in the Park, with Injuries

The day after Milan's 124th Birthday, the team gave fans the perfect gift – one of the most convincing matches they have played since early in the season, for a 3-0 win over Monza. After their win midweek against Newcastle that saw them fall out of the Champions League into the Europa League, and especially with the early time slot, this would have been an easy match to drop points in. After all, Palladino has Monza playing good football, and they certainly created plenty of chances. However, what we could not have foreseen was that Milan would handle the match with such focus and ease, yet lose two more players to injury. In spite of a staggering 29 injuries now so far this season, Milan managed this one like a walk in the park.

They made it all look so easy...

It only took three minutes for Milan to score, and it was an amazing one. Reijnders dribbled right down the middle, around multiple defenders, and took an audacious shot, catching goalkeeper Di Gregorio completely off guard. Absolutely brilliant, making it 1-0 Milan. So happy for him, after being named UEFA's Player of the Match against Newcastle midweek, he had another brilliant performance vs. Monza, including a really impressive tackle in the 19th minute, and was also voted Milan's MVP in this match. His Bilbo Baggins celebratory tweet was also epic, he won this one on every level. Reijnders is absolutely proving himself to be everything he said he could be and then some.

You can see the audacity written all over  Giroud's face.

Having our Viking Kjaer back in the starting lineup was such a boost for our beleaguered defense. From his brilliant block on Kyriakopoulos in the fifth minute to his stop on D'Ambrosio in the 31st, and all of his leadership and experience for the amazing 67 minutes he played fresh off of injury, I was so grateful. Maignan was also brilliant in this match, although he had a lot of help with Kjaer in front of him.

An impressive performance from the returning Kjaer.

Unfortunately, amongst all of the offensive and defensive brilliance in the the first half, Pobega was injured and had to be subbed off in the 23rd minute. His injury could be quite serious, he will be evaluated again soon, but could possibly need surgery. However, his exit did allow the young Simić his opportunity to debut with the first team at the San Siro. And what a debut it was.

Florenzi may look touched by God here, but he was cursed by brilliant saves from Di Gregorio.

After Florenzi took not one, but two powerful strikes on target, with both forcing De Gregorio into fantastic saves, it was time for the young players to shine. Leão sent a cross into the box, and Simić was there, sending it past Di Gregorio, who was Monza's man of the match, despite conceding three goals. Simić had the dream start, scoring on his debut to make it 2-0 Milan. He also said afterward that Maldini was his idol (I would have paid good money to see Furlani's face when he said that publicly, after the recent revelations. Certainly, that part was edited out of the postmatch comments published by the club on social media.) Pulisic closed out the half by hitting the crossbar, Milan could have had even more goals.

Leao was all of us when Simić scored on his debut. Magical.

The second half, Milan were equally convincing, even if Monza did still create plenty of chances. Chances like Colpani's in the 61st minute, forcing Maignan into a great save, one of four on the afternoon. Giroud struck the ball on the volley, but it went just over. Pessina tried to pick a fight with our massive midfield giant, Loftus-Cheek. 

Maignan earned his clean sheet.

In the 67th, Pioli brought on Okafor, Bennacer, and Bartesaghi for Leão, Loftus-Cheek, and Kjaer respectively. A few minutes later, Okafor forced Di Gregario into one of his six saves of the match, them Maignan made a save at the other end. But in the 76th minute, Reijnders sent in a beautiful cross, Giroud made the perfect assist, and Okafor slotted it home to make it 3-0 Milan.

Okafor after scoring, before the injury.

Of course, that was all too good to be true, and shortly thereafter, Okafor had to be subbed off for Chukwueze, due to yet another injury. Milan's injuries and discipline are breaking all records, although to be fair, Reijnders received the only yellow for Milan in this match. But two more injuries, and with so many of them so similar, it really does raise questions about the culpability of the coaching and medical staff and/or the pitches at Milanello.

If you forget about the injuries, everything else was kind of like this.

In spite of the injury horror show, Milan made this one look like a walk in the park, playing refreshingly carefree and confident. Perhaps the Champions League was just too heavy for this squad, and now that the pressure is off, they'll do better? We did find out on Monday that we will be facing Stade Rennais in the Europa League Playoff in February, hopefully that leads to more carefree matches like this one. Although I would love for the nonstop injury nightmares to stop. Then matches like this will truly seem like a walk in the park.

This post inspired by the music of Howard Shore's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 17
Salernitana vs. Milan
Friday, December 22, 2023 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 3, Monza 0: A Walk in the Park, with Injuries Milan 3, Monza 0: A Walk in the Park, with Injuries Reviewed by Elaine on 8:15 AM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.