Tuesday, April 24, 2007

live reactions: man united-milan, old trafford

It’s the night of the 24th down our way, and we have switched on the telly to catch the Ten Sports pundits flaunt their ignorance once again. Listening to them makes us wish we’d had the time or, indeed, the wit, to post a sane, reasoned preview of this semi-final before a result was to be had. “Milan so desperate for goalscorers! They took on Ronaldo! Why would they do that! No one else would touch him!” For the love of rumballs, you have to come from Planet Cretin to say something like that about the greatest player since Maradona. Especially since we’ve regularly been seeing what the man can do after escaping Madrid’s death clutches.

Foolish wittering about Manchester United’s “fantastic campaign” in the Champions’ League (naturally, losing to Celtic and Copenhagen and squeezing out a win against Lille thanks to borrowed genius Henrik Larsson, couldn’t get better) and Milan’s uninspiring form, neener neener, carried through the tournament solely by Kaká, blah blah, coming to this stage in spite of the fact that – oh, the predictably chuckleheaded reaction! – they ‘don’t deserve to be here.’ Hey, chaps: Calciopoli and the UEFA tribunals were both makeshift trials. If match pundits did half the work they were paid to do, these people would know that evidence was, and is continuing to be discovered as overwhelmingly in favour of Milan’s early protests that they were innocent.

And that may, indeed, be irrelevant to the topic at hand: the fact is that Milan has sweated, slogged and sliced their way through this season,

[we pause the rant and unmute the telly to squeal at that Lionel Messi Adidas commercial. Oh, Leo.]

under no illusions that their year has been anything but an unmitigated horror, aging, disappointing, cracking and tiring every other game, but they have pulled through, and anyone who saw Kaká’s hattrick against Anderlecht, or Pirlo’s free kick in the San Siro against Bayern, or Nesta keeping on his opponents out of games for full stretches of ninety minutes bare days after returning from a potentially career-destroying injury, or mewling, puking Pippo Inzaghi’s dream run against defenders ten years younger than he to score that infuriating goal in the Allianz Arena, will know why.

In all fairness to Milan’s detractors, the Berlusconi machine will no doubt try to paint a victory as a moral judgment on the rest of the world for doubting them and be generally infuriating, because heaven knows that Milan’s sense of entitlement, if rather more classily packaged, is as great as anything Manchester United can put on display. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this game is not going to depend on Berlusconi, or on Richard Drew and Joe Morrison. Let’s give human intelligence – and not just Alex Ferguson’s – a little credit, yeah.

On to the game.


12.15. a.m. April 25, 2007.

+ Line-up. Not long ago, Paolo Maldini, discussing his ravaged knees, said that none of his injuries mattered when he heard the CL anthem on the field before a game. Il capitano has famously bad taste in music – he likes Beyoncé and Will Smith, of all people. Yet who are we to judge such a one as he?

+ Moving on: Say hello to The Amazing Welshman Ryan Giggs! There’s Alessandro Nesta, expression set to his default “thunderously pissed-off!" Jankulovski winking at the populace – what up, Marek – and the beauteous Gabriel Heinze! Edwin van der Sar! Dida – starting after all! Fully expected to see Kalac there. Good or bad thing? Terrible for Milan that that is such a diffcult question to answer.

Bald Gila (yay, more space to stick voodoo pins on his figurine if he fails again). And Maldini. Could be his second-to-last CL game.

+ Game on. United kicks off.

+ What’s this, Richard Drew calling Milan “classy.” Be still, beating hearts. First time we’ve ever heard him do anything but mumble and kvetch about a non-English opponent. This is the man who called David Silva’s work of art against Chelsea as it happened thus: “Silva, Silva. Still Silva.”


+ Kaká tumbles. As a general point of interest to non-Milanisti: never believe that Kaká is as virtuous as he looks. When it comes down to it, he can use gravity rather more intelligently and favourably to his advantage than that cavalier young Cristiano R.

+ W00t, Nesta slide-tackles Rooney. No wonder Sandro was a superstar before Cannavaro actually came to the international public eye. He can outplay his striker’s game without batting an eyelash – makes him much flashier than Canna, because he can work the whole speed and danger and human-bullet impressions, whereas Canna, bar that insanely perfect World Cup campaign, generally much prefers to slow things down to his pace. Which doesn’t always work. See: La Liga 2006-07 (What a ridiculous league. Fredi Kanouté - Fredi Kanouté! - wouldn’t score goals anywhere else. Utter love).

+ Goal for Man United. DIDA. Always believed that he and Gila should have exchanged places at the beginning of the season – neither can handle goals the way he’s paid to do. No wonder there was a rumour that Barca wanted him. Absolutely no difference between him and the nutty Victor Valdes. (ETA: So it’s actually credited to Cristiano. Sorry, Cwis, no credit from DLG – the blame has been laid. And run over several times with a cleated rolling-pin.)

+ Oh hay Ambrosini.

+ Kaká, straight to van der Sar. Maybe we should stop watching this game. We always seem to jinx the clubs we love. Carletto’s looking tense and caged-up in the away enclosure. Ah, Dida saves a decent Carrick attempt. Carrick, we love you! However, please do not do that again.

+ *we mute the telly and switch on calming music *

+ Gila and Heinze clash. First we’ve seen of the G-monster all game.

+ Perhaps this point of time might behoove a disclaimer: we aren’t really watching the football. It’s pure hyperventilation. So sparkling sports feature writing will be scarce.

+ KAKÁ. Brilliant run, great finish, away goal, trademark ‘ILU GAWD’ celebration. For a secular blog, we must say we’re overwhelmingly fond of Jesus right this moment ourselves.

How’s that totally spurious and underwhelming ‘BEST PLAYA EVAR’ contest going, anyhow, pundits?

+ Giggs rattles the crossbar, which everyone knows is AC Milan’s real keeper. Almost all activity 27 minutes in have been around Milan’s goal, but the idea of a United siege is somewhat far from the mind, as things stand, since the defenders are doing their job. Perhaps they look better than usual because the last European match Manchester United played allowed them seven goals in.

+ Oh, Cristiano falls. Rino, who has been hounding him all evening, is the cause. Handshakes all around. Free kick to Cris. … and the wall gets it.

+ Beautiful Pirlo run and square pass to Seedorf. Art for art’s sake. Reminds us of one of the earliest posts on this blog, where we talked of how watching Pirlo play football occasionally makes us ask of everyone else in the business, “…why bother? Why bother?”

+ Maldini and Nesta foil da Roo. Well, let’s see how the Milan Wall’s holding up sixty minutes into the game.

+ * wander off to find chocolate to stave off the tension*

+ Hey, anyone else think O’Shea is a dead ringer for Philippe Senderos? Is this a good thing?

+ Dear heavens, KAKÁ. The FRACK if that goal isn’t one of the best we’ve seen all year.

+ Nesta’s header off a corner kick. Goes wide. (Never mind, Sandro, the hair’s still Homeric in its terrible beauty).

+ Ooh, yellow for Evra for a foul on Massimo Oddo. He misses the next match.

+ Rino goes to ground. There was contact there, for sure, but the reaction is pure drama, no doubt hoping to get Evra a red. Ref doesn’t buy, but calls stretcher, and does award a free kick for Milan. Pirlo doing the honours. What on earth, the man’s actually sweating. Has his heartrate gone above the usual Pirlo 100?

Probably; it goes wide.

+ Half-time.

+ Kaká’s second goal just gets better and better every time we see it.

+ 2nd half: Bonera comes on for Maldini. Hm. The 60’-Milan crumble still foreseen, although not now for lack of fitness. Ambrosini gets the armband. What’s the break-up of the vice-captaincy, we wonder? Does Rino get it for Serie A games and Ambro for Europe? Very interesting if that is the case. Very Milan, actually. Fracking byzantine public relations.

+ Carrick misses the sweetest of chances off a corner.

+ .. the hell? Is that the THIRD time Rino’s being stretchered off? This time for good. Go in peace, Rino, and be well. He’s had his own injury issues this season, ribs, ankles and all.

+ Christian Brocchi comes on. We haven’t seen much of him yet. Didn’t he get his first Italy call-up this year?

If it wasn’t for Nesta – and the latent (very latent) genius of Pirlo – we’d put the two defences as equally balanced now; Oddo and Janku are super, but rather not for this sort of game. Too much going forward.

+ Kaka-Seedorf crossing near the United goal. Delightful, if pointless. This time, at least.

+ ROONEY. … Wait, wasn’t that a handball? Oh no, just more proof, United so full of character, Rooney such a genius, such talent and determination, wonderful, marvellous, beautiful, superlative, best thing since rumballs.

+ Goal came on sixty minutes, too. Dun dun dun dun. Where’s that bloody chocolate.


+ We come back at 70’ to see Kaká tackle Scholes, get Man United a free kick. Giggs misses. Ancelotti looks troubled, anyhow. Our faces mirror this expression, we feel.

+ Bonera yellow card for tackling da Roo. Crappy move, Daniele. Free kick. Dida tense. We’re off to the kitchen again.

+ But hark! Dida saveth. Someone decided to turn an honest day's profit, after all. That’s what, twice this season, Nelson J?

(Really, why is Marco Storari fourth choice keeper for Milan? He’s one of the sharper keepers in Serie A. And he’s cleaned his hairstyle up a bit since he joined, too.)

+ Heinze-poppin’. Gila collision. Free kick to Milan. Pirlo, as always. Better effort this time. Smothered by van der Sar at the post, anyhow.

+ Dang. Terrific slide from Nesta to cut off Cristiano, but they both crash into the boards. Cue drama queenism from both parties. Or so we hope. Another injury at this stage doesn’t bear thinking about.

+ Wh0a! What a volley from Cristiano! Hits the upright, sadly for him.

How on EARTH do you give this man so much space if you have an iota of sense in your brain?

+ The anonymous Gila off, Yoann Gourcuff on. Youri’s great. In fact, his form in the few matches that he’s had a chance has been so good that it’s amazing Ancelotti hasn’t given him more starts, even in that diamond-studded midfield. Then again, he’d bring the average age of the first team down even further, and we all know how unacceptable that seems to be to the Rossoneri.

+ Ambro crunches Rooney’s ankles. Free kick results. Dida looking pissed off. “Why are you making me WORK, people?”

+ Three minutes to go. Remember Bayern. Eat more chocolate.

+ Injury time. Nesta’s first mistake of the evening. Bloody good goal, that, even if it does repel itself from the foot of da Roo.

Aaand that’s all. Man United 3-2 Milan. See you next week in the San Siro.

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Blogger Mindi said...

I don't know why, but this window is showing up in Japanese and I can't tell what I'm doing but ghda;ghda; your live reactions were interesting to read even if in the end I was left feeling a bit ill again. :(

8:11 PM  
Blogger ~Lord Anshul said...

you think last goal was Nesta's fault. I think he did pretty well blocking far-post. It was dida the god. only ting he had to do was to hold nearpost for 2 more minutes and he sucked. i hate to see manu winning

12:17 AM  
Blogger roswitha said...

No, no, it wasn't Nesta's fault. Only that it was the first time all evening we saw Rooney win something against him - granted, Bonera was nowhere to be found, but we don't really want or love to see Nesta being beaten even if he is the only one holding up the defence by the end of the game.

He is kind of a static centre-back, so he should have done more to push the defence up higher, but there's only so much a man can do. Still, here's hoping there's better to come from him.

We're all agreed that a team that plays Dida between the sticks deserves every loss it accrues.

12:49 AM  
Blogger ~Lord Anshul said...

i agree..first time rooney was able to beat him..bonera was good for nothing. in first half..rooney was no where to be seen..
but no point playing blame games.

but i still feel, they can pull it at san siro. and two away goals are going to be realll bonus

1:12 AM  

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