Apr 252015

Udinese Milan

The line up was tweaked with Pazzini starting up front and Bonaventura moving back to midfield. The first half was one of the most disorganized performances in an already poor season. Nothing resembling cohesion or tactics to be seen. There were no shots on target. Late in the half a goal was disallowed apparently for an Antonelli foul on  Silvan Widmer. The half ended with only that highlight, not that Udinese were great or spectacular either.
Rami replaced an injured Paletta at half time. The inevitable goal arrived, for Udinese of course. A corner was not cleared well and Giampiero Pinzi shot in through a crowd. Suso had Milan’s first shot on goal in the 62nd minute. His reward was to be replaced by Cerci moments later. Moments after Destro replaced Bonaventura Udinese doubled their lead. Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu poked in Guilherme’s cross after Lopez had palmed a shot away. It was impossible to blame one player only and the responsibility lay at everybody’s feet, including Pippo and his arguably wrong substitutions. Milan finally managed to score. Cerci’s high cross found Pazzini’s head and he found the back of the net. It was far too little however.
More about the match in the forum.

Apr 192015

Inter Milan

In the build up to the game it was briefly feared that Lopez might not make it due to a sprained finger but he did start. Honda made a return but had to start on the bench, as did Destro, as Inzaghi decided to give Suso a start. A minor surprise was Alex taking Paletta’s spot in defence. The best early chance fell to Hernanes as his shot from outside the box was palmed into a corner. Milan appeared lacklustre and barely threatened and often ceded possession easily. Suso forced a Samir Handanovic save in the 20th minute but little else until the half hour mark. Suso’s freekick, after a Gary Medel undeserved yellow for a foul on Abate, ended in the Inter goal but was called back for a questionable offside. The half fizzled out with little passion.
Early in the second Inter had a goal called off correctly for offside. Milan’s possession was improved but lacking a true and recognized striker meant little danger in Inter’s box. Perhaps Destro or Pazzini would need to come on. In the 57th minute Rodrigo Palacio had a chance to give Inter the lead but Lopez managed to collect the ball. Inter started to retake the initiative. A bit later Inter had a case for an Antonelli hand ball in the box but by current interpretations it would have been harsh. In the 70th minute Paletta replaced an injured Alex. Moments later an Inter counter had the ball in the back of the net but it was called back due to a foul. Destro and Cerci came on for Suso and Poli. Lopez made the most important contributions by controlling one good and few not so good chances.
This derby will be most remembered for the disallowed goals and it highlighting the new mediocre status of the Milan teams.
More about the match in its forum thread.

Apr 122015

Milan Sampdoria
Mid week injury fears were unfounded as both van Ginkel and Bonaventura started. The Curva Sud’s campaign of using the #saveacmilan hashtag on any paper or banner seemed a limited success, all amid growing reports of a team sale nearing. The closest early action came in the 14th minute when van Ginkel forced Emiliano Viviano to palm his shot out for a corner. Milan enjoyed more of the ball. On the other side Samuel Eto’o shot just wide in the 22nd minute. Destro was at the end of a couple of half chances and headers and van Ginkel seemed to be growing in stature. Cerci had a lot of the ball but rarely created more than a half chance and missed a relative easy chance late in the first too. The half ended 0-0.
Right after the restart Sampdoria had a chance from a counter. Soon after an Antonelli cross was not handled properly and the Sampdoria goalie almost handed Milan a chance to take the lead. The game stumbled along with little of note. In the 58th minute shortly after a Sampdoria counter had gone nowhere Samuel Eto’o found Roberto Soriano open behind Mexes, the latter easily scored. Suso came on for Cerci. The visitors seemed improved or Milan seemed to be going in the opposite direction. De Sciglio came on for Abate shortly before the equalizer. Nigel de Jong shot from a corner and his shot was deflected in by Alfred Duncan. The Ghanaian had come on earlier for the visitors’ goal scorer. The last Milan sub featured Pazzini coming on for the injured Destro. The latter seemed hurt after leg to leg collision. Later Suso hit the far post from a curled shot and the game ended with lots of possession but little else. Getting one point from a team higher in the standings was perhaps a cause for celebration.
More about the game in its forum thread.

Apr 042015

Palermo MilanThe game was almost overshadowed by growing stories of the team being sold to Far Eastern interests. On the pitch there was relative stability however. Bonaventura made a welcome return to the line up but the injury news of the week was Honda’s sprained ankle. The injury would keep the Japanese international out for a few weeks. A poor start to the match didn’t provide much hope. Franco Vazquez missed an unmissable chance to give Palermo the lead but Milan netted first via a lucky or fluke goal off of Cerci, a van Ginkel cross was diverted in by the winger. There were cases for a penalty and a handball on each side but the half time score remained 0-1.
More very close calls followed in the second half, Destro barely offside in one instance. The hosts got the tying goal, Paletta’s trailing leg brought down Andrea Belotti. Paulo Dybala converted the penalty. A bit later Suso made a first Serie A appearance in place of Cerci. As fears grew that more dropped points were coming Menez ran and beat all of Palermo’s defense for the winning goal. The performance was never noteworthy but the three points very welcome.
More about the match in its match thread.

Mar 222015

Milan Cagliari

Bonaventura was a late injury scratch that meant Poli got the start. Nigel de Jong made a welcome return in an otherwise relatively rare stable lineup. Perhaps the bigger news of the week was Curva Sud’s strongly worded letter in the wake out this terrible season. The group demanded that Berlusconi and team management be more transparent and honest. A walk out and boycott was planned that left the San Siro almost deserted.

Curva Sud called for a walkout protest leaving the San Siro almost deserted

Curva Sud called for a walkout protest leaving the San Siro almost deserted

Marco Sau had an early good chance for the visitors but it was Menez who scored first. A well taken shot curled in to the far corner beating Zeljko Brkic in the Cagliari goal. Menez’s celebration was muted and almost non existent. Zdenek Zeman back for another spell in Sardinia was often his trademark attack at all cost self.
The second half almost immediately featured a Cagliari counter, Mexes was turned around by Diego Farias and badly beaten for the tying goal. The Mexes criticism was almost immediately interrupted when the Frenchman restored Milan’s lead. He volleyed well, from a Menez corner and through a crowd. Later after Cerci and Pazzini had come on for Honda and Destro the ref whistled for a Milan penalty. The foul seemed well out of the box however. Menez converted the penalty. Cerci and Pazzini missed very late chances but the three points were already assured.
More about the match in its forum thread.

Mar 162015

Fiorentina Milan

Abate made a welcome return to the starting line up, elsewhere on the pitch van Ginkel got another opportunity in a nominal 4-3-3. The hosts’ coach Vincenzo Montella could afford to rest the well performing Chelsea loanee Mohamed Salah. Honda had Milan’s first good chance, his hard shot was stopped by Neto in the Fiorentina goal. Perhaps surprisingly Milan had the better of the ball early on including several corners. Fiorentina weren’t doing too well. Several players, including Honda, were guilty of wastefulness however. In the 30th minute van Ginkel got a deserved yellow for a poor tackle and Fiorentina’s best first chance came from the resulting free kick. Lopez did well to collect the ball. Fiorentina kept improving.
Fiorentina made two changes to start the second taking off Alberto Aquilani and Micah Richards for Milan Badelj and Joaquin. The better chances started to come for the hosts. Milan scored first however, a Bonaventura shot was almost unintentionally directed in by Destro. Menez showcased his wastefulness again in the 63rd minute and wasted a counter and Destro cross. On the other side players like Joaquin were just as wasteful. Cerci came on for Honda but the team couldn’t hang on. Gonzalo Rodriguez jumped above Abate to head for the equalizer. Worse was yet to come as a poorly marked Joaquin added another soon after. The last ditch desperation efforts were introducing Pazzini for Essien and curiously Bonera for Abate. In the end it was yet more points thrown away.
More about the game in its match thread.

Mar 072015

Milan Verona

Even taking into account the long injury list it was normal to question Pippo Inzaghi starting Mexes, Muntari and Pazzini when Bocchetti, van Ginkel and Destro were available on the bench. It was also as questionable to revert back to a formation that moved Bonaventura back to the side when he did reasonably well in a more central attacking role the weeks before.

Current Milan injury list, via Gazzetta

Current Milan injury list, via Gazzetta

The start wasn’t the poorest and Milan were easily the more dangerous. Pazzini troubled Verona at least twice early on. Verona’s best early chance came when Jacopo Sala shot low and just wide. Verona started to come on more. Soon after Muntari stuck his foot in and brought down Artur Ionita, Luca Toni converted the penalty. Two minutes later Cerci had a good shout for penalty turned down, replays showed it was 50-50 at best. Milan did continue to question the Verona defense but otherwise the quality was poor, whether it be defending or creating clear cut chances. As the first half was winding down with little to show for Menez converted a penalty after Mexes was brought down by Bosko Jankovic near the top of the box after a questionable freekick.
Early in the second a scramble in the Verona box allowed Mexes to shoot in from a close range tight angle that was almost a deflected own goal. Ball possession remained very good but creativity with it was not enough. Honda replaced Cerci in the 64th minute. A few minutes later a Verona counter ended with a Panagiotis Tachtsidis shot which beat Lopez but rebounded off the crossbar. In the 77th minute Pippo Inzaghi somewhat surprisingly took out Pazzini for Bocchetti. Adding another defender for a center forward was surely too negative a move to make and no one was 100% sure what thee formation was anyway. Menez continued to showcase his selfishness too as he hung to the ball too long. In the final minutes Verona coach Andrea Mandorlini was sent off, Destro was a late sub for Menez. Muntari almost gifted Verona a goal. Very late on Nico Lopez scored to make it 2-2, a simple case of poor team play. Also, Honda wasted a last second free kick. Two more points dropped.

More about the match in the match thread

Feb 282015

Chievo Milan
All Serie A games of this 25th match day featured a 15 minute delayed start. The players organized the delay as a form of solidarity with Parma players caught in a chaotic ownership scandal that has been threatening that team’s existence and cancelled Parma’s second game in a row (at Genoa).
Diego Lopez returned to keep the goal, Mexes was back from suspension but (thankfully) only on the bench. Bonaventura had a small knock in the warm up but made the starting lineup. First dangerous chance was created from a Milan freekick in the 16th minute, Albano Bizarri in the Chievo goal stopped the low shot and rebounds. In the 25th minute Sergio Pellissier collected a long ball beat Antonelli and almost beat the on rushing Lopez but the ball was cleared out by Bocchetti. Few half chances were wasted and a wrong offside call against Montolivo disrupted another potential attack but otherwise the first half was rather ordinary except in Milan’s superior possession.
Honda replaced Montolivo for the second, a seemingly positive move. The Japanese moved into a 4-3-3 switch, made a good start and hit the crossbar within two minutes of coming on. Pazzini replaced Destro at almost the three quarter mark. The best chance of the game came right after, good work by Bonavntura cleared Menez on goal, however the Frenchman’s cross was stopped/intercepted well by Federico Mattiello. The final sub was Cerci replacing de Jong. The Dutchman seemed to have a hamstring issue otherwise he was not the intended sub and Cerci wasn’t even sure if he would be coming on for him. Cerci ran well down the right side several times but an actual goal was never really close.
Read more about the game on the forum

Feb 222015

Milan Cesena

A 4-3-1-2 of sorts was another new formation conjured up by Pippo Inzaghi. It left no room for Cerci and featured Bonaventura behind Destro and the oft selfish with the ball Menez. Montolivo was back from injury but the defence was still suffering from unavailability of Abate, De Sciglio, Zapata, Paletta, Alex, Armero and Zaccardo! Also, Abbiati started for suspended Diego Lopez.
An early Poli goal was called off due to offside. The team seemed a bit more cohesive and the first half was better than recent games. It paid off as Bonaventura shot well into the far corner from a nice play to beat Nicola Leali in the Cesena goal. The second half wasn’t as good perhaps but little of note was created by the visitors. Late on a questionable penalty was given and sub Pazzini sealed a relatively comfortable win.
How much value there is in beating a relegation team at home? Based on the matches since the start of the 2015 calendar year any win is a good win. It is inevitable to hear Pippo and management claim a “new start” but this was only one game.

There is also some truth to the following. Inzaghi preferred three subs, including van Ginkel, over Suso.

More about the game in its match thread

Feb 152015

With the injury list still long another was added when there had to be an early sub as Alex got injured, he was replaced by Salvatore Bocchetti. There wasn’t much positive to say about the game and the team still lacked cohesion and imagination. Destro scored from a counter before the half but the lead was not really deserved. Bonaventura and Menez worked well give Milan a lead. The second was more of the same and by the quality of the football it was right to question all players and coaches. Empoli, always the more fluid team, found the almost inevitable tying goal through Massimo Maccarone. Late in the second Diego Lopez was sent off for touching the ball outside the box. Abbiati came on for Destro to finish the game. But that was not the end of it, Paletta pulled a muscle and couldn’t continue. As all three subs were already made – a bit earlier Cerci had replaced Honda – the game finished 9 vs 11.
It seems every week Pippo Inzaghi finds a positive spin and gives hope but it is becoming clear that an experienced coach needs to be found. Despite looking like a poor collection of players the position on the table is still an underachievement.
Much more about the game on the forums.

Milan Empoli

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