Well ― as much as I wanted to title this piece Five by Five (and most of all, cleverly invoke a Buffy reference too), sadly, I can’t.
Remember what I said about the prospect of Milan dropping points by this stage of the season?
Well, the prophecy came true last Saturday. (And yes, I am flagellating myself for this.)
Milan, for all intents and purposes, didn’t play a very good game against Fiorentina.
They were nervous and looked tired, and as someone on Twitter said, it looked like Milan were the ones who had played the Supercoppa, not Fiorentina. Fiorentina, on the other hand, used their righteous anger of last week’s loss to fuel them, and they were relentless against the Rossonere. They pressed high and fast from the get go and it eventually paid off, as their talisman, Alia Guagni, opened up their scoring account with a goal in the 32nd minute.
I am now somewhat regretting writing so many nice things about her, mainly because everything I said was reaffirmed within the context of this game.
Questions about the team’s physical fitness will be raised from this match, mainly pertaining to how they managed to look so gassed, and we’re not even at the halfway point of the season yet.
There will also be questions about the tactics the team deployed too. Coach Maurizio Ganz is well aware of this (and knows just what exactly is expected of him), so hopefully he’ll switch things up, and do a better job during the next game (and that one’s going to be a doozy of a match as well, mainly because of who we’re going to be playing against).
Ilaria Mauro also made her return to the Fiorentina squad, and she just had to make her return against us. Her effectiveness was felt on the pitch, as she contributed to the attack and gave the Milan defense quite a few fretful moments.
(This is literally what happened.)
I wish I could do a longer analysis, but honestly, there’s nothing more to write here. Milan are no longer the joint league leaders, as they now sit in second place. The only consolation to take away from this match is that Milan improved from the way they played against Fiorentina last year, which ― truth be told, wasn’t very well. However, it is a sign of progress that we managed to tie the game 1-1, and did not allow the Viola to slip four past us again (which is even more remarkable when you consider the fact that, once again, the squad was completely gutted over the summer). With this in mind, we can therefore say that this game can be viewed as a positive sign for them, while also viewing it as something that the team can improve upon.
In conclusion: Milan didn’t play well, and there are questions about the team’s physical fitness. If we want to stay in the race for first place, then we are going to have to get it together, and get it together soon. The next game is against Juventus on November 17th, and honestly, now is the time to start getting a little worried, mainly because Valentina Giacinti, our captain and a national team stalwart, has been left out of the Italy squad, due to picking up an injury during this very same match against Fiorentina.
Instead, her teammate, Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi, has been summoned in her place. Prior to this, a lot of people were in fact, clamoring for Deborah to be called up to the Italy squad (especially considering, shall we say, some of the other options available to the team). However, her being summoned to the squad feels like it was done after someone made a wish on the monkey’s paw, and the law of equivalent exchange means that Valentina Giacinti will have to stay home and recover from an injury, while Salvatori Rinaldi takes her place. (And mind you, this is also Deborah’s first call-up to the Italy squad on all levels, and at the age of 28. What a time to be making your debut!)
The game against Juve will come after the international break, where one Valentina (Bergamaschi), will be present for the national team, along with Laura Fusetti, Linda Tucceri Cimini, Alessia Piazza and of course, Salvatori Rinaldi. While we’ll all watch with bated breath to see how our Milan girls will perform for their respective national sides, we’ll also do so by keeping a watchful eye out for Giacinti, and hoping that she’ll make a speedy recovery.
Other than this, let’s cross our fingers and make the appropriate, ritualistic sacrifices to the bloodthirsty Gods of Calcio, that not only will Giacinti recover in due time, but that we’ll also manage to escape from the game against Juventus with a point in hand (and maybe even all three of them as well).
It might be a tall order, but if anyone is up for the challenge of making the impossible happen, then it most certainly will be us.