CL Recap: AC Milan 0 Atletico Madrid 1

Marco Luzzani

I will be brutally honest, I made up my mind before the match on what was going to happen. I was pleasantly surprised...

I have never been big on finding positives in losses. A loss is a loss no matter how you slice it, and before this match I had resigned myself to exactly that result. The problem I have is that, while I had a mental image of what was going to occur, and maybe I set the bar so low that it had nowhere to go but up, I sort of enjoyed the performance. I am not ruling out getting into the details of the match once the dust clears, why Urby still starts or how Poli proved more useful than anyone before him. I can discuss for hours how the double pivot works better without Monty, but at this point let me focus on the positives.

My vision of the match before it began was Milan having loads of possession, the sort of harmless East to West variety. They would pass and pass and pass some more and every once and awhile Ateltico would win a tackle and slam it down Milan's throat to the tune of say two maybe even three goals, at the San Siro no less! Milan did lead the possession battle but it was not a huge divide, in fact the numbers ended around 52 to 49 percent. Atletico also didn't hit back with the venom I expected. They were as good and stout as advertised, as tough as the old Serie A teams I remember and just as aggressive, and while I thought it would bring Milan to their knees it simple didn't.

At times it looked a lot like a boxing match from Rocky. With Milan landing blows, but Atletico simply taking it on the chin and kept standing there biding their time. Eventually they broke the deadlock and took their chance, it came from a poor clearance, a defensive failure of execution, something we have seen all season long. The sort of set piece that seemed to get levied against those off the pitch instead of those on it. Seedorf remains blameless and the poor clearance today was on Abate. The point is Atletico didn't earn the goal, they didn't truly outplay Milan, they just hung in there tough as nails and capitalized when it mattered most taking a crucial away goal back to Madrid. It is never going to be the sort of performance that would earn a team accolades but I remember many a Milan performance in the glory days looking just like Atletico today.

Now here we are, with a mountain to climb, but I feel strangely fine. I never really believed this team could win the CL, I am realist and in my opinion the squad as a whole is simply not at that level. I also understand that this team is changing and while my support of management and the manager ebbs and flows, for the first time in a long time the players earned my respect. They worked a bit harder today, showed a bit more resilience and desire, and that alone was worth it for me. As I said at the outset, I don't like saying a loss can be a win, it's a loser's mentality, an excuse. But at the end of the day my allegiance will always be to the shirt, but for the fist time in awhile I can at least applaud the effort.

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