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.
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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.
— AC Milan West (@mark_mrl_milan) February 22, 2015
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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.
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Continued injuries meant a different starting line up once again, a nominal 4-3-3. However one could question Adil Rami’s absence from the starting eleven. A midfield consisting of Muntari, Essien and Poli was not exactly encouraging and Muntari with the captain’s armband was even less so, especially considering his recent exclusions. The first goal came early when Tevez beat a very high offside trap, barely, ran and shot past Diego Lopez. A second goal was not far away when a Pirlo free kick made its way deep into the box but was cleared with Lopez trapped and beaten. Pirlo’s free kicks were predictably causing trouble. The next set piece to result in a goal was Milan’s, Luca Antonelli rose above everybody and headed in from a corner. Moments later Muntari lost the ball at the edge of the box, Lopez punched the resulting shot out. From the corner Leonardo Bonucci diverted the ball in. The tie had lasted only three minutes. Late in the half Pazzini came on for Menez in what looked like a slight injury. The Frenchman walked off unassisted. Lopez continued to save the team as usual.
Pazzini had a chance and Bonaventura replaced Poli just after the hour mark but soon after Morata made it 3-1 when pretty much the whole team could have done better. Later Pippo Inzaghi used his last sub to bring in Rami for Zaccardo leaving both Essien and Muntari in and not adding a real offensive thread, like Suso perhaps. A couple of questionable Juventus plays and elbows went unnoticed and the game was predictably lost.
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The team is on a defender buying frenzy. Luca Antonelli, the former Milan youth player, returns to Milan from Genoa on a loan but with obligation to buy. He has signed until 2018.
Gabriel Paletta arrives from Parma for a low fee and also signs until 2018.
With a long list of injury absentees that included Bonera, De Sciglio, Zapata, Bonaventura, El Shaarawy and the suspended Mexes the squad to face Parma included five primavera players – Gori (66), Calabria (96), De Santis (97), Felicioli (37), Di Molfetta (38). The starting lineup featured Alex with the captain’s armband, ex-Parma Zaccardo at right back and newly acquired Bocchetti at left back. Destro started up front in what was officially a 4-4-2 but was more a 4-2-3-1 with the ex-Roma player in front Menez. The first goal came when a Parma handball in the box gave Menez another goal from the spot. The defence looked poor as usual and needed Lopez more than once again. The equalizer came from yet another ongoing weakness when a freekick was not dealt with and Nocerino shot past Diego Lopez. Zaccardo was better than expected when moving forward and Destro and Alex each had a good chance before the half. Michael Essien replaced van Ginkel at the half to add some stability. Menez scored again after a good play with Poli and Cerci with the latter providing the assist. A fully stretched Antonio Mirante in the Parma goal couldn’t keep the ball out. Later Muntari replaced Destro. Zaccardo’s good play overall resulted in a goal when he half diverted, half shot Menez’s cross into the Parma goal. A relatively solid effort, especially considering the injuries and new look of the team, provided the first league win of the 2015 calendar year.
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