Roma 0 - Milan 0
Very, very basic thoughts on the Milan game. One very basic thought:
They played poorly, by their standards, against Milan and earned a point...
And people are upset by this? They lost no ground in or around the currently relevant European spaces; they tacked another clean sheet on the board; they put handcuffs on Milan's best player for 89-odd minutes; and they did so with a whole three games remaining against top half teams - all of which are at home.
This is not a week-to-week sport: points will be dropped, form will be imperfect, chances will go begging and fans will be left seething. A marathon, not a sprint.
Still undefeated since October and 5-2-1 under Ranieri against Serie A teams which qualified for Europe last year. And no one's pretending they're in December/January form, but they're allowed not to be - they're human. Blips on the radar for professional athletic teams are, shockingly, allowed and, even more shockingly, inevitable; when that blip spell includes a draw with Milan, you're doing something awfully, awfully right.
- Milan can rue missed chances in the press all they want, but they clearly haven't watched enough Julio Sergio this year - it's taken something special to get past Julio Sergio, and just putting stuff on net ain't gonna to cut it.
On a slightly scarier note, what are the chances Milan have JSB's agent in the speed dial top five...
- This is the first game I've genuinely questioned Ranieri's use of subs, but not tactically - there's a reason he's on the sideline and everyone else isn't. There were simply some terribly tired legs at the end of the match, with a couple - Daniele & David - suffering blows during the game on top of lacking fitness coming into the match. In fact, I hadn't realized just how many players in the XI had enjoyed the midweek friendlies:
Juan, Burdisso, Daniele, Julio Baptista, Mirko & Riise, while David & Julio Sergio are/were still far from fitness (less of an issue in Sergio's case). If there's ever a time to empty the subs quota, that's it.
Claudio played Russian roulette and won this time, but next time the revolver just might empty.
- Ranieri nailed it in the presser when asked why he didn't bring in Menez, who I wanted to see play desperately, but at the expense of logic: for whom?
No one without sacrificing a great deal of defensive steel and perhaps the point, that was the problem.
- You'll notice that as Perrotta's form has struggled, so too has Roma.
Not a coincidence.
- Milan's midfield was impressive - particularly Flamini - but my word if Daniele De Rossi didn't play the role of a thousand men in that first half...
- This was John Arne Riise's worst game in a long, long time. Not only were Bonera and Huntelaar - in that order - turning him into fits, but he couldn't get forward.
Again, if one of your defenders can play that poorly and still come away with a clean sheet...
- And I'd like to know - in all honesty - when's the last time the goddamn attacking abilities of Daniele Bonera necessitated a formation change (4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 so that Simone could offer more help).
If it's anything but 'never' I'm packing up all my things, moving to Papua New Guinea and quitting life.
- The mere presence of Luca Toni's shadow wreaked more havoc in the Milan half than an epileptic bull in a fine china shop. It's been nearly two months since his last true appearance, and it took not two minutes to see the immense dimension he brings to the side.
- Massimo Ambrosini is the new Fabio Quagliarella.
- Apparently this will be the last sell-out for another nine years.
- Two goals conceded in the last seven home league games, one of those Pastore's (non)penalty.
It'll now be interesting to see not the result, but the performance after a proper week off. If they succumb to a draw with Livorno...
Go crazy, folks.