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The Rose That Was Strangled by Concrete: The Milan women lose to Florentia 2 - 1

I’ve had a whole weekend to work this out of my system, which means I can write an objective review now (or at least, try to). Recap will also be devoid of all the swear words that flew from my mouth while watching this game (well, for the most part ...)

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
Piero Cruciatti/LaPresse

Well, we all knew it was coming. As I said before, there was a risk of Milan dropping points at this stage of the season. And lo and behold, it happened. Not only did we lose points, but we managed to lose all three of them as well.

Florentia beat us. There’s no way around this, and it still hurts to say out loud.

If I could sum up my feelings about this game in one pic, this would be it:

You know who

And my disappointment over it is still, immeasurable. And my day was completely ruined.

So as a result of the immeasurable disappointment, this will be a limited review, due to the fact that I am unable to formulate enough proper thoughts to discuss the way I feel. So instead, I’ll try to string together a few, distilled words, then write them down in a few talking points here.

Shooting Blanks

Milan had the majority of possession and shots on target, and still for some odd reason, couldn’t convert their many chances.

It’s honestly a lot like kissing your date, but not going all the way with them. And you can’t brag to your friends about ‘scoring’ well, because you didn’t in fact, go all the way. To be fair to Milan, they did put the ball in the hole, I mean er, the back of the net at least once, and that was thanks to Valentina Giacinti, who fell to the floor, won a penalty, and then converted it.

However, Florentia won a penalty of their own when the ball accidentally hit Linda Tucceri Cimini’s arm, and the referee decided that she should be punished for being born with two appendages and for not amputating them before the game, so he gave a penalty to Florentia because of it.

Maegan Kelly (who was born in America and has Canadian citizenship, as the Italian commentators were intent on reminding us at least 1274 times) then slotted home their hard fought (dubious) penalty from the spot.

She would also score the game winner in the dying moments of the game when Milan’s defense had fallen asleep shortly before the game had actually ended.

While it’s all well and good to blame the bad officiating, the fact of the matter is, Milan could have overcome this by converting just a few of their many chances. But they didn’t, and it’s unfair to blame a specific player over this, whether it be everybody’s favorite target Bergamaschi, or our intrepid captain Valentina (and ignoring all of the other good things they’ve done in the process). The point is, the failure to score was a collective effort on the part of everyone, and everybody on the team needs to step up and do better. Otherwise, we are going to keep losing points like this, and won’t meet the objectives we’ve set for ourselves during the course of this season. Nobody wants to fall short of them, so in order to prevent ourselves from doing so, we must do better.

The experiment with Nora Heroum is not working

Nora Heroum in a more advanced position as a makeshift striker or sorts is just not working. Mr. Ganz, I realize that after the success of Francesca Vitale at right back and how she’s been the revelation of the season that you might start to fancy yourself as a tinkerman, but honestly, this isn’t working.

Move her back to being a mezzala, please. Furthermore, Miriam Longo has proven herself to be a revelation, and she did so by being a spark of light that set the field ablaze as soon as she came off the bench and was substituted into the game. Use her in a more advanced role please, and let Nora go back to her role as a midfielder. Otherwise, we are going to continue to suffer like this.

Speaking of which

Milan needs to upgrade their midfield. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. After the squad was completely gutted over the summer, Milan did their best to fill the void left by the players who had made their departures, but unfortunately, it’s really hard to find suitable replacements for two midfielders who are among the very best in the world.

Milan did their best to replace them, and while the midfielders they’ve signed are pretty decent, it’s pretty obvious that the forwards are isolated and suffering from a lack of service. Something needs to seriously be done about this, and reinforcements are needed within the next year.

(And seeing Manuela Giugliano being crowned as the Player of the Year by the AIC makes me even more wistful and also makes me long for what could have been.)

A few more, random observations:

  • Serie A’s infamously bad refereeing has now infiltrated the women’s game, and there was no better example of this than this match (and Florentia’s previous game against Roma as well). And while it’s tempting to think that the officiating is favoring one team (and let’s be real, that team is usually Juve), as people often claim it is in the men’s game, it’s important to remember that the Juventus Women have also been the victims of the bad refereeing too. An example of this would be when Juventus’ goalkeeper Doris Bačić, was expelled during a game against Hellas Verona after an incredibly confusing sequence where she picked up a ball that had bounded into her box and then stepped out of said box because she thought she was offside (or maybe she wasn’t?) Either way, the ref gave her a red card for what he felt was insubordination, when in reality, she was just really, really confused and acted in accordance to it.
  • The call just felt very, very harsh (especially in light of, as I said before, the action appeared to be unintentional on Doris’ part), and Juve’s resident shot-stopper (Laura Giuliani) had to be pulled off the bench (and presumably away from her studies), long enough to see out the rest of the match. It’s between this and the handball call against Linda Tucceri (and Milan being flagged offside nearly every single time they tried to go forward), that raises the point that the officiating for these games needs to be improved. If you want to raise the standard of the championship and its prestige as well, then you must start by raising its level on every facet, including the level of officiating as well.
  • The handball rule needs to seriously be reevaluated. I thought it was ridiculous during the Women’s World Cup when Saki Kumagai (of Japan) was also punished for being born with two arms, as the ball accidentally hit one of them during a game against The Netherlands, thus gifting The Dutch a very fortunate penalty that would allow them to win the match. (They would then unfortunately, go on to beat both of our Valentinas and Italy in the quarterfinal of the tournament, before making their way to the final.)

It was unfair to Saki, and also unfair against Linda Tucceri Cimini, as it wasn’t as if she was playing a game of volleyball with the football. The ball accidentally hit her hands as it was being sent into the box, and as a result, Milan was severely punished for it. IFAB needs to seriously reevaluate the handball rule and even consider amending it, in order to prevent things like this from happening again

  • Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi and Lady Andrade are still injured, and Laura Fusetti is experiencing some slight muscle problems as well. (The fact of which, makes me feel like pouring acid into my eyes might be more pleasant than watching Milan without all three of them.) Here’s to hoping that Laura will at least be available to play this Saturday, and that Salvatori Rinaldi and Andrade will get better soon.
  • The game was also the swan song for Florentia’s captain, Giulia Orlandi, as this was the Florentia captain’s goodbye. So there was some sweet to this bitter, and it thus placates the grief and immense regret over the loss somewhat (well ... only a little). Nonetheless, we wish Giulia the best of luck with her future and hope she lives a happy and fulfilling life

In the end

(I’m only posting this so you’ll have that Linkin Park song stuck in your head. You’re welcome now.)

And yet, despite all of this, all of the excuses in the world won’t make up for our poor performance. The fact of the matter is, we didn’t play well, and in the end, we have no one but ourselves to blame for this result. We must learn to be more clinical in front of goal, and to remain on high alert for the full 90 minutes of the game, in order to prevent things like this from happening again.

We go again this weekend, and there are no more excuses

Our next game will be against Pink Bari on Saturday. There’s no more time to waste here on what could have been, so now we must do the grown-up thing, and pick ourselves up and try again.

A victory is an absolute must, and we must do everything we can to win against Bari.

(Sidenote: But if you feel like reliving the misery, then watch highlights of the match down below.)

Here’s to hoping that this weekend will be kinder to us, and will bring us much needed joy to make up for all of the suffering we endured last week.