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Milan 0 Tottenham 1

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This one took a while, but a loss always does. As I watched the match the first time I found myself in disbelief as to how a team with so much more experience, class, and even a home field could be so lackluster and incapable. Even as I watched bits and pieces again on the replay, there was little to be proud of and between the Flamini tackle and the Tottenham coaching staff mixing it up with Rino, the only thing I can really feel after this match is embarrassment.

Why Allegri chose to put Tiago Silva in the midfield is beyond me, yes lack of real choices made this a tough decision. But as we discussed this ad-nauseam over the past few weeks, Silva in the midfield makes the attacking build up a very disjointed and poor affair. Merkel would have been a tough sell over Seedorf, and starting Robinho in the hole may have been suicide in the balance department, so you can see this lineup card was a challenge from the start. It is still not an excuse for a team of veterans, all with CL experience, to play scared and in a defense shell against a team in knockout CL football for the first time in a long time, at the San Siro no less.

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You can also make the case that the late goal from Totts, on a smart counter to Crouch, could have been better defended with Silva on the pitch, but this is hindsight but adds to the problems that injuries cause. For what it is worth I have to give credit where it is due, and Totts and Ol’Arry certainly deserve it! They came to the San Siro to play, and with the likes of Pienaar, Crouch, Lennon, and Van Der Vaart they did just that. They weren’t scared, they weren’t cautious, they just came out and played their game in a way that even made me envious, they had swagger, and built on it the whole match. Van Der Vaart even in a 60 or so minute performance showed his worth, and the fact that we bought a useless Dutchmen two summers ago only to let Sneijder and then VdV slip away is infuriating. Can you imagine the difference a player like this would have made for Allegri’s Milan in the 4-3-1-2!? Defensively they were well organized and even under pressure in start of the second half, they kept their shape, tracked back, played the ball out of the back and continued to play well.

The same can’t be said for Milan, who were once again disjointed for much of the match. It doesn’t help when 3 DM’s collect the ball from the defense, as mentioned earlier, but the attack was reluctant to posses and make things happen. It sure didn’t help that Gomes turned himself inside out on a few saves, and will give Yepes nightmares for years to come, but those were the best of a few minor chances because Milan simply lacked any precise passing or patience in and around the 18 yard box. Even Abate’s decent runs forward didn’t amount to anything as he misread occasions to cross or pass. Allegri’s choice to include Pato immediately in the second half also didn’t provide any sort of real spark and I can’t help but think Pato has little exertion on such big time matches. I can never shake the image of him slumming around in the thrashing against ManU and even today I was furious at his lack of any real urgency.

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I want to end on two points, and they probably won’t be the most popular but need to be discussed. The first point being Flamini’s tackle, it was a red card challenge; in fact I would say it was a horrific Red Card challenge. With that silly tackle the game seemingly got out of hand physically and any in roads Milan made in the attacking third were seemingly lost. Not sure why this was, but if ever a challenge was poorly timed, this was the one. It was clear this tackle raised the hair on the necks of the Tottenham players and coaching staff and acted as a catalyst that sent Spur’s Coach Joe Jordan into a tizzy with Rino Gattuso who had already been ruled out of the away leg. He was a warrior on this day, and led by an intense fiery example, but the fact that such experienced players couldn’t keep their cool was disappointing. Just watching him bury his fist into the turf in the 78th minute, not once but twice, showed all the frustration come to a head…

Finally, I want to end with Allegri, which I touched on briefly earlier. For those who want to start with witch hunt, I simply want to know what he could have done better on this day?? Everyone is quick to “pull the trigger” but these same people refuse to offer up any sort of suggestion as to what could have been done differently, and don’t say starting Merkel and Strasser, this would have been suicide, or better yet the attacking trio Pato, Zlatan, and Binho!? The midfield would have been overrun before the end of the first half. I just don’t see how some fans can’t recognize how far we have come from last season. Maybe for a fleeting second I thought we could win the CL, but that feeling is slim to none at this point. We are in first place in the league, and a chance to win our first title since 2004, and maybe even turn a domestic double. I am not waving the white flag quite yet, but maybe this is a blessing in a disguise…