Milan never does things the easy way, now do they? Indeed, the Rossonere, just like their male counterparts, often seem to end up doing the complete opposite.
The AC Milan Women apparently, aren’t ones to break tradition, so they insisted on staying true to form and making us sweat throughout this game. But in the end, it was all worth it.
The match itself started out well for the Rossonere, as the deadlock was broken after 46 seconds by none other than our intrepid captain, Valentina Giacinti.
The Rossonere seemed to be in cruise control for about 17 minutes, that is until Bari struck back. Aina Torres tucked in Shona Zammit’s cross underneath the bar and the two teams were suddenly level.
That, unfortunately, led to a brief mental collapse of sorts. It was then that it would appear that Milan was going to do the thing that they normally do against small teams, which is to struggle against them. (Fortunately for us though, the team managed to keep it together and to manage to avoid doing so.)
Half-time came, and Coach Ganz must have given them quite the pep talk because the Rossonere came storming out of the gate after the interval.
Five minutes into the second half and once again, it was Giacinti who managed to find the back of the net. That goal would be the spark of electricity that would jumpstart the Rossonere’s beating heart and bring them back to life.
Giacinti’s goal was soon followed by one from Nora Heroum (‘53).
Not wanting to be left out of the fun, midfielder Refiloe Jane would then add to the total with an absolute pearler of a goal.
Bari, on the other hand, worked hard to ensure that Milan wouldn’t win quite so easily.
At the 77th minute, Bari’s Carp would go fishing for a goal and cut Milan’s lead down to a two-goal deficit (4-2). Fortunately for Milan though, new signing Thorvaldsdottir would fire a thunderbolt into the back of the net at the 78th minute. Thor’s goal would extend Milan’s goal Milan’s lead to three goals, as they led Bari by a score of 5-2.
However, it was Captain Giacinti who would ultimately have the final say, as she capped off her fine performance with a goal in the 82nd minute.
The goal would allow Giacinti to complete her hat-trick and would be just the cushion needed to ensure a victory.
Bari would pull yet another one back at the 88th minute, but it wouldn’t be enough to overturn the goal deficit. In the end, Milan won the game 6-3.
Despite the hefty scoreline, Milan actually struggled during this game. The fact that they took in three goals while also managing to score six, would attest to this. There were many defensive errors, and these errors can be chalked down to a variety of things. First and foremost, is the fact that Maurizio Ganz chose to continue his experiment with the line-up.
Once again, he fielded Nora Heroum as a fullback, only this time, he placed her on the right instead of the left. This was done to accommodate Milan’s starting left-back, Linda Tucceri Cimini, whose presence was sorely missed for much of the last game. The experiment seems to gone better this time around, as the Rossonere didn’t struggle nearly as much to create goals.
The area where Milan struggled the most, however, was in defense. This was again, largely due to the make-shift line-up. Nora Heroum traditionally plays as a midfielder and has only been in the fullback position for less than one week. This wasn’t enough time to create the type of cohesion needed to create a strong, impenetrable defense.
As a result of this, Milan, who statistically, has the third strongest defense in the league, let three goals past them. Adding to this is the fact that Ganz had to start second-string goalkeeper, Alessia Piazza, in place of the first-choice keeper, Mária Korenčiová, due to the latter being injured at the moment.
Alessia is still young and still has a long way to go before she can become a top goalkeeper. This was quite evident during the match when she appeared nervous and tentative at times. She was also partially culpable for Bari’s second goal, due to not positioning herself properly in order to stop Carp from scoring.
However, it’s a little too harsh to single her out for Milan’s defensive problems. She’s still young and has a lot of time to learn, and to get better. Though the fact that Milan took in three goals and that Bari came dangerously close to scoring at the 65th and 66th minutes highlights the need of the team to work on a few, glaring issues. The team needs to become more fit in order to be able to keep up the intensity for a full 90 minutes and to prevent situations like this from happening frequently. This has sadly, been a recurring theme for them throughout the season.
The hope is that Milan’s management is aware of this and that the issues with the team’s physical fitness will eventually be addressed down the line.
This aside, AC Milan can take comfort in knowing that they played a great match. May this also be the beginning of them reversing the trend of struggling against the ‘smaller’ teams as well.
What Happens Next
It’s worth remembering that Milan’s midweek encounter against Pink Bari was to make-up a match that had previously been postponed.
Up next for them will be another derby with Inter Milan on Sunday. This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides, and Milan has won all three previous encounters.
The last time they played Inter was back in December, during yet another midweek encounter, only this time, it was for the Coppa Italia. Milan handily won that match by a score of 4-1. It should be noted that Milan had the fresher legs then, as that was the week their match with Bari had been postponed.
This week, the two teams will go into the derby with the situations reversed.
Physical fitness has, unfortunately, been an issue for the Milan Women as oftentimes, they looked gassed after playing intense matches.
However, one can take comfort in knowing that a few of Milan’s key players have been rested. Most notably, starting centre-back Stine Hovland, who was replaced by Francesca Vitale, did not play the past two games, and stalwart forward Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi has been out of commission since December. She seems to have fully recovered from her case of plantar fasciitis though and is fit enough to start playing again.
The hope is that both of them will have fresh legs and be ready and raring to go for this Sunday, while the rest of the Milan squad will be ready alongside them.
The game against Inter will be played this Sunday, February 02, at 12:30 p.m CEST.
Here’s to hoping they can draw inspiration from this match and pull off yet another fantastic performance. Let’s make it three for three, and pull off another victory then.