The women of AC Milan have finally gotten back on track. After an embarrassing stumble at Florentia, Milan remedied that loss quite handsomely, and in two separate ways: the first of which, was by beating their crosstown rivals Inter, the same way your auntie used to beat your misbehaving cousin when they was acting a fool.
They then followed up that victory with a subsequent one at Hellas Verona this Saturday. And while the two games nearly followed the same script, the results of both games couldn’t have been more starkly different.
There is no world without Verona walls
Milan started their game against Verona on the front foot, as they launched wave after wave of attack. Unfortunately, they lacked the bite to finish off their many chances, as that sting in the scorpion’s tail was sadly missing.
They came close many times during the first half, but sadly, couldn’t finish their many chances. I think this was best summed up by how the Italian announcer for this match kept saying the words ‘traversa’, ‘occasionisima’ ― and my least favorite word in the whole entire world, ‘palo’, with all three words pretty much being synonymous of one another and coming to mean the exact same thing: Milan just can’t score.
Once again, they were unable to score during the first 45 minutes of a game and the only rational explanation that I can think of for this, is that the Rossonere are statistics nerds who wanted to reinforce that stat that 80% of Milan’s goals have come in the second half of their games. (And for this, they deserve to be given wedgies and locked into lockers for making us all suffer that much.) True to form (or should I say, true to those statistics?), Milan did in fact score in the second half at the 49th minute, thanks to a goal by stalwart and captain Valentina Giacinti, who finally broke her scoring duck, and did so at the right time.
That strike would prove to be the solitary goal of the game, and the most crucial one, as it ensured that we ended the match with all three vital and crucial points.
Purgatory, torture, and hell itself
(Nice little title, isn’t it?)
There was once again, an endless amount of agony and suffering as Milan just couldn’t score. Chance after chance would come for them, and Milan would just spurn them like they were undesirable dates. Maurizio Ganz would at least spare us the pain of having to see Nora Heroum in a more advanced role as a makeshift striker of sorts, and instead, chose to play Miriam Longo in that position, and have Lady Andrade complete the attacking trident. The results were mixed to say the least, as - while Longo had a fairly decent game that was only marred by her inability to score (just like the rest of the Rossonere), The Lady in Black and Red missed chance after chance, as they either hit the pole or sailed over the crossbar. It was very frustrating and painful to watch, as it seemed like after she scored during the last game against Inter, that she finally found her scoring boots and was ready to make her mark in Serie A (several of them, in fact). Well, she must have placed them back on the shelf again, as they certainly went missing during this game.
Aside from the endless amount of suffering from Milan’s inability to score, Milan experienced pain in other ways, chiefly when Valentina Giacinti hobbled off the pitch at around the 90th minute. The cause of her hobbling was a bruise that had been inflicted to her left foot during the late stages of the match. Not much is known about her condition now, but it will be assessed and the full extent of her injury will be made known to us within the upcoming days.
Here’s to hoping she’ll make a full and speedy recovery.
Furthermore, someone has got to work on the match fitness of these ladies. Again, it never fails to amaze me how they’ll turn up against the Big Teams like Inter, only to play in a near, lethargic manner at a tragically slow(er) pace against the so-called smaller ones.
Also, please please work on making these women more clinical in front of goal. The endless missed chances are not only unbearable to watch, but they are going to hurt us in the long run too.
These are all things we definitely need to work on, so thank goodness we will have a reprieve in the form of a midseason winter break. It will allow the players to rest their legs and recharge their batteries.
But for now, let’s just hope that all of that holiday cheer and endless amount of time spent with their families and significant others will do them a world of wonders, as lord knows they’ll need it if they’re to continue their good form into the new year. (And quite possibly, surpass it too.)
We will definitely need to put as much effort as possible into doing so, not only to keep apace at the top of the Serie A standings, but to ensure we’ll be in the Champions League next year as well. Here’s to hoping we’ll in fact, be able to do so.
A few, random notes
- Though Milan has much to work on, it is worth noting that they have improved a lot since last year. Crucial draws against Fiorentina and Juve, where they didn’t drop all three points against them, and winning games against the likes of Hellas Verona, show just how far this team has come. This is a far cry from the team who took a 4-0 thumping from La Viola last year, and who would have dropped points against teams like the Gialloblu last season, have shown just how far they’ve progressed. Here’s to hoping that they’ll stay the course and continue to grow and become the best team that they can quite possibly be.
- The other Valentina (Bergamaschi), had a stormer of a match. She fought hard for every ball and expended a lot of energy on the pitch, in order to ensure that Milan got that win. As I’ve said before, Valentina’s greatest strength is how she contributes to both the defense and the attack, and does everything on the pitch (besides score goals). As upsetting as her lack of ability to score goals is, we cannot overlook this, or downplay her other vital contributions to the team. The incredible amount of grinta she has and how she’ll give everything for the Rossoneri shirt, makes her an incredibly valuable asset to this Milan team. And even though I was sad to see fan (and personal) favorite Francesca Vitale on the bench as Vale played in her place, clearly, Ganz knew what he was doing. Here’s to hoping they’ll be introduced into the starting line-up and play alongside each other again, as Milan with an on fire Bergamaschi and Vitale would be an absolute force to be reckoned with.
- Miriam Longo, who I’ve spoken about before, has been the other revelation of the season. In less than three games, we’ve already seen the difference that Longo has made when she’s on the pitch, whether it was with the quick goal against Inter (less than 20 seconds into the match!), and the varied and vital contributions she made for her team, during last Saturday’s game. Longo manages to combine quickness, dribbling, ball control, and an ability to retain the ball at her feet while playing at the most precipitous speeds. She also brings with her a fierceness and a bite that has sorely been missing from the Milan attack. Miriam has the potential to be Milan’s very own Golden Girl, and to play the same role that Arianna Caruso plays for Juve and that Giada Greggi plays for Roma, in that they are the team’s brightest youth prospects, who make valuable contributions week in and week out. The future is only going to get brighter for her, so let’s hope that she continues to grow at this remarkable pace.
- Valentina Giacinti was seen injured and hobbling around the 90th minute. According to Spazio Milan, she has a ‘deep bruise’ that will be assessed within the upcoming days. Here’s to hoping the bruise won’t be too deep, and that Vale will recover soon.
- The game between Milan and Pink Bari, which was supposed to take place last Saturday (but was cancelled due to adverse weather), has been rescheduled. It will now take place on the 29th of January, at 12:00 PM CET.
Other than this, let’s just be grateful that Milan ended the year on a high note. The Rossonere have much to be thankful for this year, ranging from the success of both Vales at the Women’s World Cup, to the Italian government approving an amendment that will allow them to become professionals, and finally, having a good run of form where they held their own against the peninsula’s two biggest heavy hitters, and have only lost one out of nine games.
I don’t ask for much for the holidays (mainly because I know both my roommate and I and heck, most of my family, are too broke to afford what we want), but if I’m allowed to have one thing this year, it would be for the Milan women to be allowed to continue their good form, and to continue to make us happy.
Thank you, once again ladies. You’ve been a light that has pierced through a bleak and suffocating darkness, and may you continue to bring hope to the hearts of the dour and dolorous Milanisti, who so desperately need it.
Best wishes to you and everyone else reading this. And have the happiest of New Year’s.