Fiorentina 1, Milan 3: Paying Our Respects

On a day that Fiorentina were honoring their late General Manager, Joe Barone, Milan also paid their respects. During the minute of silence, instead of clapping or jeering or shouting stupid things like some other fanbases do, you could hear a pin drop in the stadium, as traveling Milan fans were respectfully silent alongside the mourning Fiorentina fans. After the whistle, Milan respected Fiorentina in the most sporting way possible, by giving them a great match. And even if Milan defeated the Viola 2-1, it was simply our way of paying our respects.

Paying our respects in the most sporting way possible...

Milan came out firing on all cylinders. And by all cylinders, I mean the chaos machine was beginning to take shape – Leão and Chukwueze were proving incredibly problematic for Fiorentina's defense, and Giroud looked dangerous sometimes, too. In fact, after forcing Pietro Terracciano (the goalkeeper – not to be confused with our Filippo Terracciano) into his first of eight saves in this match, Chukwueze was fouled by Biraghi because he just could not stop him. In the 17th minute, a Tomori header rebounded off of Leão, and it was their striker, Belotti, with the heroic goal line clearance to keep the score at 0-0.

Maignan had a massive game.

Thiaw earned a yellow for a foul on Kouamé as possession started to shift to the other end of the pitch for a bit. And Maignan made a big save on a 1v1 with Belotti, his first of six saves in this match. That's right, between the two goalkeepers, there were fourteen saves in this one, because (spoiler alert) Fiorentina took 17 shots with seven on target and Milan had 13 shots with a clinical nine on target.

At halftime, Pioli replaced the cautioned Thiaw with Gabbia in defence. A minute later, Leão absolutely bewildered the Fiorentina defense with a brilliant backheel to pass the ball into Loftus-Cheek, who understands the importance of steadying the ball at your feet before shooting, so he did, straight past Terracciano. 1-0 Milan. He scored his tenth goal of the season, something he had been challenged to do earlier this year.

Celebrations were definitely in order.

Celebrations were a bit short-lived, however, because Fiorentina came right back, and Duncan equalized with a powerful strike from outside the area as he came running in. 1-1 all. But just two minutes after that, Reijnders sent a perfect through ball to Rafa Leão, appearing in his 200th match for Milan. The Portuguese winger just cruised past all the defenders and Terracciano, tapping it into the open net, making it all look so easy. 2-1 Milan.

The battle raged on, and Fiorentina turned up the intensity, not content to give Milan the win. Maignan had a save on Ikoné, Terracciano saved one from Florenzi. Then Maignan saved a rocket of a shot from Belotti, and two minutes later, a header as well. Tomori was an absolute beast. In the meantime, Pioli made changes to the troops – he replaced Leão with Okafor and Reijnders with Musah. I know with the goal and the assist, most people will consider him the Man of the Match, but both Maignan and Tomori should both be contenders for that title as well.

Leao singlehandedly destroying Fiorentina with a goal and an assist on his 200th appearance.

Lest Fiorentina take all the shots, Pioli then replaced Chukwueze, who had a brilliant game, with Pulisic in the 73rd minute. Just three minutes later, Musah sent a ball forward for him, and he slotted it into the back of the net, only for them to realize that they were probably still on U.S. time, because the goal was called back for offside. 

In the 82nd minute, Pioli sent Jović on to face is former team and replace Giroud, whose defensive game was perhaps better than his offensive game in this one. In keeping with the tradition of finding bogus ways to award Milan players cards, Maresca showed Tomori a yellow card for poking the ball out of bounds in the 89th minute, something I'm not even sure I've ever seen carded before. Like I've seen players get frustrated and kick the ball in anger and get carded, but this was absurd. Leão even retweeted a fan's video comparing an Inter player doing that and not getting carded, with Tomori's bizarre caution.

Pioli congratulates Tomori, who had an epic performance in this one.

In continuing with that trend, Loftus-Cheek seemed to foul Mandragora in the 93rd, but it wasn't anything more than Maresca had seen all match. However, Mandragora stayed down, so Maresca showed Loftus-Cheek a yellow card, too. That means that unfortunately, he will be suspended next week for our match with Lecce. Milan started out the season with a real discipline problem, but now they seem to have more of a referee problem

If a player even flinches around a referee, or raises his hands in exasperation after being fouled really hard, or celebrates his goal, or pokes the ball out of bounds, Milan players get carded. Meanwhile, the league leaders could commit murder on the pitch, and the referees would not even blink. Even off the pitch, they are certainly doing everything wrong, but it is still Milan who are being investigated. Even people who don't believe in conspiracies are convinced that there is something very suspect happening with the refereeing this season.

Reijnders still proving himself indispensable in every match.

However, in spite of earning a couple of extra yellow cards unnecessarily, Milan took all three points home from the Stadio Artemi Franchi. Our sixth straight win of the season. I talked about this on a recent podcast, that Milan should finish this second half of the season really strong, and it is nice to see them actually playing so consistently. While most people assume that allowing Fiorentina to win might be the best thing for a team in mourning, in the sporting world, the best way to respect your opponent is by playing your best. And in that sense, Milan were simply paying our respects.

This post inspired by the music of the Cocteau Twins' "Heaven or Las Vegas"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 31
Milan vs. Lecce
Saturday, April 6, 2024 • 15:00 CET (9am EDT*)

Fiorentina 1, Milan 3: Paying Our Respects Fiorentina 1, Milan 3: Paying Our Respects Reviewed by Elaine on 2:00 AM Rating: 5
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