Verona 1, Milan 3: Fortitude

Earlier this season, Milan struggled to string together a few wins in the league, let alone to win in Serie A after playing a midweek match, too. Yet now Milan have won three league matches in a row, while playing two Europa League matches less than 72 hours before their past two games. This 3-1 win away to Hellas Verona demonstrated that not only can Milan manage to pull out results with some rotation of players, they have the mentality to win even with tired legs. We are witnessing a new mental fortitude.

Milan's mentality leaving opposition like...

This match was an exciting one. While Milan controlled much of the match, Verona took plenty of chances as well, and there was plenty of end-to-end action for the neutral fan to enjoy. Okafor started up front instead of Giroud or Jović, and for the second match in a row, he was driven to score. Pulisic is also in good form, and hit the crossbar in the first 30 minutes as well. Maignan did not exactly have a vacation at the other end of the pitch, either. 

Okafor is not taking any prisoners lately.

In the 29th minute, Tomori was shown a yellow card for a foul on Noslin. Things were rather physical, but referee, Marianelli, let a lot of things go. The sheer inconsistency of refereeing in Serie A alone creates an atmosphere of suspicion. That was not helped by his second yellow card, awarded to Theo Hernández, because apparently Verona's manager, Baroni, got upset after his goal or something. And that card will see Theo suspended for our next match after the break vs. Fiorentina. Granted, Baroni was shown a yellow as well, but it will not have the impact that Theo's will.

Milan continued to attack, in particular Pulisic and Okafor, but also Theo Hernández, while the defense held at the other end when Verona countered. Then in the 44th minute, Leão passed the ball to Theo, who dribbled and wove in and out of the defenders to take a shot from an impossible angle to make it 1-0 Milan. However, his celebration caused that controversy and yellows for both he and Baroni.

We don't understand why you got the yellow card, either.

The second half saw Pioli bring Gabbia on for Kalulu, who had taken a knock earlier in the first half and reportedly has a minor knee issue. Five minutes later, Okafor took a shot that Montipó parried out, but Pulisic was there for the rebound and slotted it home. 2-0 Milan. This was Pulisic's fourth goal in as many matches, and also happened to be Milan's 5,000th goal as well.

When I talk about how Mariani let things go, Calabria was fouled in the 59th minute, and after being fouled, he was kicked in the back by a Verona player, but nothing was done, not even a warning given. That kind of thing happened throughout the match, and is the kind of thing that leads to injuries. Why even have a referee?

Pulisic is beyond in form, he is unstoppable.

Maignan had some nice saves in this one, including one on Šwiderski in the 62nd minute. Which should have been a warning, but I'm not sure there ever is a warning for what happened next. Noslin, who had been dangerous all match, scored a brilliant goal from outside of the area to pull one back for Verona. It was now 2-1 Milan. Verona apparently specialize in these types of goals, having scored six in 2024 alone. We saw the same thing with Slavia Praha, they only scored from the edge of the box or just outside of the area. And if we are going to concede, at least let it be brilliant goals like that.

In the 66th minute, Pioli replaced Pulisic with Giroud and Loftus-Cheek with Musah, as the starters were looking a bit tired. In the 73rd minute, he subbed off Okafor, who, although he didn't get on the scoreboard, had a solid match, and replaced him with the oft-maligned Chukwueze. That proved to be genius, as about five minutes later, from a Bennacer corner kick, Chukwueze hammered it home on the volley. 3-1 Milan.

Chuku-Chuku finally gets his Serie A goal, and it was a screamer.

Pioli's final substitution was to replace Tomori with Kjaer in the 83rd minute. Reijnders was shown a yellow card for a foul on Petrović in the 87th minute. Maignan's most amazing save came in the 91st minute, when he actually did the splits to stop a shot from Šwiderski. It looked painful, too, like he literally may have pulled something. But he made the stop, that's the important thing. Maybe he'll rest up over the international break instead of featuring for France, so we can have him back injury free? (Hey, I can dream, right?)

The joy is palpable.

This match was incredibly validating after so many stressful matches where Milan dropped points this season due to silly mistakes or an otherwise dropped focus or mentality, particularly after having played in Europe midweek. I spoke about this on the last podcast, where I was uncharacteristically optimistic for the remainder of our season. Hopefully, this holds true for the final third of our season. Having players be able to slide in and out of our lineup without losing anything is what Pioli has been working for, and it seems like he may have finally achieved that mental fortitude.

This post inspired by the music of EON's "Spice (With Notes)"

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Verona 1, Milan 3: Fortitude Verona 1, Milan 3: Fortitude Reviewed by Elaine on 9:33 PM Rating: 5
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