I had a horrifically bad feeling about the Udinese match starting last weekend when I watch them dismantle Lazio. Granted Lazio rested some players for the Coppa Italia, but Udinese had almost what I would call a mean streak, as they pushed forward and kept pressure on their opponents. As I mentioned in the preview I had been following Udinese for a few weeks up to this point and their run of form was very close to that of Milan, and arguably the best in the league next to Fiorentina. All and all I didn’t find the result all that surprising.
What I did find surprising was the collective drop off in play from the Rossoneri, who fought hard against Juventus, though not all that well, but seemed to lack any momentum in this match. It makes you wonder how at team can do such a complete 180 with close to the same players on the pitch. Offensively the team was poor; Pato and Kaka really never got anything going and possibly the few weeks apart on the pitch played a role. The more alarming issue is Pato’s drop in form, as the balance of goal shifted from Pato to Pippo his contribution and form have dipped alarmingly. I personally attribute this to his youth and inexperience in his first full season, but it he needs to find a consistency that, in all honestly, eludes his teammates as well.
Like in past losses Carletto was keen at throwing offense at the problem, but save for an offside goal this also proved futile. The promise Shevchenko and Dinho have showed in substitution roles this season appeared contrived on this day. Maybe it is the end of the season catching up, maybe it was the tenacity of the opponent, but on this day it seemed like nothing could go right for the Rossoneri, the simple notion of every motion seeming as though it was going uphill. The one person who did well, surprisingly enough, was Nelson Dida. Yes he spilled some shots that he could have held, but no harm, no foul as they didn’t lead to goals. On many occasions he made a big save or got his hands on a shot that kept the score from becoming insurmountable even though a single goal would have seemed insurmountable the way Milan was playing. A few weeks ago the thought of Dida in goal was the catalyst of our table landslide, but instead he has been efficient and successful, glad he was able to contribute when his team needed him most.
It’s funny because after you recap a game it does in fact feel that it was as bad as discussed. I am not all that bent out of shape about because we have not had a game like this in what seems like centuries, whereas last season they were biweekly occurrences. Rally the troops and get back in gear with two games left, and second place still a bit of a worry concerning surging Fiorentina, it is no time to start throwing in the towel. Not with Maldini’s last two games of his career…