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I Came, I Saw, I Conquered (But Mostly, I Suffered): The Milan Women beat Sassuolo 1 - 0

There was a game between Milan and Sassuolo, and some stuff went on. And oh boy, did we suffer a lot. But hey, at least we won!

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The hero of the day (Sandra Žigić with Stine Hovland)
AC Milan

Well, true to form, Milan, being a team who are based in Italy, exhibited classically Italian traits, and did one of the few things Italian teams are really good at: suffering against small teams.

No one will ever know why the Italian teams tend to do this against the so-called ‘smaller’ teams, as this will remain one of the universe’s greatest mysteries, alongside whether or not Atlantis was real, is there life on other planets, who was really on the grassy knoll, and how on earth Stephen Miller still has a job (and a wife). The Italians, for all intents and purposes, don’t tend to beat the minnows with the effective, force, vigor, and more importantly, goals that you think they should. But that’s just what they do.

The only plausible explanation for this (at least in Milan’s case), is that the Rossonere spent all of their energy holding back the beastly chimera that is the current scudetto holders, Juventus, in order to ensure that they didn’t walk away from the match with all three points, and devour us alive in the process. It was a hard fought, slog of a match, but man was it a spectacular battle to watch. And in the end, we got the result we needed.

During that game, the Milan women played an absolute stormer, through the midst of what was pretty much an actual storm. They gave it their all and fought until the bitter end. It’s from watching matches like this that you get the sense that these women are really proud and honored to wear this shirt and to represent these colors, and will honor the Milan badge by fighting with all of their heart and soul for them. They are not afraid to get down and dirty and will leave everything on the pitch, and that in turn, makes you feel really privileged and pretty proud to cheer for them.

It’s something the men’s team could definitely learn from, and the fact that they don’t share the same characteristics, just makes you appreciate the women even more.

However, maaaaaaaaaybe they put too much energy into their last game, which explains why they were rather lethargic and couldn’t be as clinical in front of goal today while playing against their opponents on Saturday, who just happened to be Sassuolo.

Let me put you on the game:

The game started off rather brightly for Milan, as they immediately started attacking swiftly. The first chance was at the 15th minute and it fell to Valentina Bergamaschi, who - true to her form - fluffed her lines and missed it. It would be nice if Bergamaschi actually scored one of the many chances that often come her way, but if that happened, then the Four Horsemen would show up and the world would end before we even had the chance to celebrate it.

Milan would dominate possession and would not allow Sassuolo much time and space on the ball. However, the one thing they missed the most, was being more clinical in front of goal. Chance after chance would come for the Rossonere, and they would either spurn them, or were denied by an evil goal post that obviously hated us.

(Which explains why Linda Tucceri Cimini wasn’t able to score with her spectacular volley at the 33rd minute.)

Unfortunately, while most of the Milan squad were underwhelming, some were worse than others. No one exemplified this more than Nora Heroum. She was so underwhelming, out of it and ineffective during this match, that coach Maurizio Ganz had to make an early substitution, and bring her off at the 36th minute for Sandra Žigić.

While most people were happy to see Nora off the pitch, most weren’t happy that her replacement was in fact, Sandra. Yet despite their protestations, Žigić would have the last laugh in the end (as would Coach Ganz).

After a brief reprieve from all of the anxiety we experienced during the first half, the second half started, and our anxiety would return along with it.

Another chance was once again, spurned by the Rossonere at the 46th minute by (you guessed it), Bergmaschi. And it was at this point I felt my brain get sore from all of the internal screaming I was doing. If this wasn’t enough to make us suffer, Sassuolo would add to that misery, thanks to Michaela Dubcová, whose shot on goal narrowly went wide of the target. Had it gone in, I’m sure I and the other Milanisti would have done a full Chernobyl and gone into meltdown mode.

Thankfully though, it didn’t. However, the main reason why we should all be thankful, is because managed to score a goal. It was gifted to us by none other than Sandra Žigić, who came through at the 60th minute. The assist for this goal came via Valentina Bergamaschi, who temporarily made up for being unable to score any goals by at least helping someone else score. And as it turns out, maybe Ganz knew what he was doing after all.

Other than that, there were few things of note that occurred during the second half, that are actually worth writing about. Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi came in at the 64th minute, got a yellow card a few minutes later, then nearly scored in the 81st minute, only to have it eventually ruled out due to a foul in the build up to that goal. She then did the one thing Italians do best when things don’t go their own way, which is protest rather animatedly with her hands.

Daniela Sabatino, our ex-captain, nearly came close to scoring at least twice. The Sassuolo team had very few chances on goal, as Milan pretty much dominated the entire proceedings, but whatever few chances they had, were enough to cause us a few moments of worry, and our hearts leapt into our mouths whenever they were in sight of the target.

And in case you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned our esteemed captain, Valentina Giacinti yet, it’s because well, Valentina was such a non-entity this game. She might as well have been Out of Mind and Out of Sight, and recruited by the CIA for her stealthy ability to remain so elusive. While Giacinti did start off the game rather brightly, practically making accelerated solo runs towards goal and holding off many members of the Sassuolo defense at one time, eventually, she practically became a shell of her form self. Also lamentable is the fact that like her fellow Valentina (Bergamaschi), she too missed several seemingly easy chances in front of goal.

The only logical explanation to this, is that the real Valentina Giacinti was kidnapped by aliens and is being held hostage in a compound somewhere, and that there was a pod person playing in her place today. Time to break into the compound to free the real Valentina, and to bring her back in time for next week’s game.

Other than that, hey at least we won. It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, we got all three points. And that’s all that matters.

Like, I ‘unno
AC Milan

A Few, Random Notes:

  • Someone has got to work on the fitness of these ladies. It never ceases to amaze me how they’ll turn up against the Big Teams, then sleepwalk through their next game with the so-called little ones.
  • Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi had to leave the game on crutches, but that was only because she is unfortunately, suffering from plantar fasciitis. Here’s to hoping she’ll be available for next week’s encounter.
  • Milan are currently second in the league table. After Juventus’ thrashed Roma (4-0), we find ourselves second in the standings. And that’s not a bad position to be in, as it means that we’re only two points behind Juve, and in the running for a spot in next season’s Champions League.
  • The game against Sassuolo was also, thankfully devoid of any of the sanctimoniousness and irritating melodrama that we had to endure last week. Sassuolo are apparently, a squad full of adults, who can accept the outcome of a game (whatever it may be), and be mature about it. While it might seem like the bare minimum, after everything that went on last week, I feel obligated to commend them for this, and for playing well enough to prevent us from scoring more than one goal. Well done to the Neroverde for this.
  • Daniela Sabatino was greeted rather warmly by her former teammates, and it was also nice to hear that the Rossoneri faithful treated her with respect as well. Some even went as far as to leave nice messages under her Instagram statuses too. This is the kind of stuff we all like to see, especially in light of (as I’ve noted before), the untimely death of Daniela’s father last July.

Final Thoughts:

This game was pretty ugly and not fun to watch, but at least we secured the vital three points we needed in order to keep apace on top of the Serie A standings, and more importantly, to remain in the running for a spot in next season’s Women’s Champions League.

Now, it’s onward and upwards towards our next game. Our next game will be against Florentia next week, and the game will take place on Saturday, November 30th, at 14.30 PM CET (8:30 am EST / 5:30 am PST). Florentia will surely give us a hard time during next week’s encounter (as they did to Roma when they beat them last Saturday), and a victory against them will most likely come after a hard fought and scrappy match.

But given the rather tough spate of opponents Milan had to run through prior to this point, this will most likely be a welcome relief and a poolside vacation in comparison.

Florentia are tough, but our girls are tougher. And the only way to prove this, is to take home all three points against them next week.