Mid 90's Milan - Part Seven

Written by @cm9798

Welcome back to Mid 90s Milan! I’ve loaded up CM2 Italian League to try and correct Milan’s woeful 96/97 season and so far we’re doing quite well. It hasn’t been without stress – some big beatings threatened to ruin Christmas but the ship has been steadied. We sit top of Serie A with a 3 point cushion. We’ve got a Coppa Italia final to look forward to and soon a Champions League quarter final clash with Barcelona.

All of that lands me the manager of the month award for February. Will it be a curse as we head into March?

A home game with Vicenza doesn’t really seem like appropriate warm up for Barcelona. Albertini and Costacurta remain out but we should have plenty in our ranks. From the off though we are poor. Sloppy in fact. We also seem intent on throwing in some big challenges. Desailly is booked for one before Weah goes in dangerously on their centre back and it’s a red card. Uh oh. With over half the match to survive I’m not optimistic but if anything we are better with 10. We push hard but Mondini is equal to everything. Eventually, Savicevic beats him with a header. Relief, rejoice.

Lazio and Juventus both drop points and the cushion is 5 points.

The Champions league quarter final is played on the Thursday. Was that a thing? Who knows. I’m amused to see Luis Enrique is “just” a central midfielder here, he would be upgraded to the ultimate utility man for 97/98. Ronaldo however will probably destroy poor old Rossi.

We’re no further forward in terms of selection so it means Baresi will be tasked with dealing with Ronaldo. Please, not a foot race.

We get a Champions League classic. Two teams at the top of their game duke it out and swap great goals. A Weah solo run gives us the lead but Stoichkov chips in a leveller. The Bulgarian puts his side ahead with a curling free kick before Boban scores from 25 yards. Maldini wins it from a corner. Advantage Milan.

We’ll do it all again in two weeks. First though, we’re off to Sampdoria.

You may remember from a few updates ago, I am fascinated by Sampdoria’s squad. Sebastian “don’t call me Juan” Veron is a striker, who is on the bench. Dunga is in midfield with Mihailovic and up front is Roberto Mancini. He’s a star player but has only 4 goals in 15, so I’m not worried.

We start like a train and that goal machine Maldini strikes from a set piece. Mancini equalises for a minute but Savicevic heads us in front. Mancini then scores from 25 yards to make it three goals in as many minutes, surpassing the number of goals scored in most Serie A matches in the 90s. We’re not finished yet either. We’ve lost two to injury but the sight of our own blood only serves to rile us up.

Mancini strikes from distance again just after half time as Rossi waves it in. Sav equalises but Simone scores a late winner. Just call us the entertainers.

Lazio are humbled 5-1 by Vicenza and the lead is 8 points. The pressure is off heading into the second Milan derby of the season.

Ganz, Djorkaeff and Zanetti are all out injured. They have spent £6m on Dario Hubner though and he partners Zamorano. Weah is banned (and also injured) whilst Eranio’s injury is timed well with Albertini’s return. Both he and Costacurta are less than 100% but they are needed.

Inter score with their first and only shot on target. Festa – who I called a clown during the preview a few updates ago – heads in from a corner. It looks like being a vintage Italian defensive display as we struggle to make a clear chance but Maldini pops up on the back stick to head us level late on. That’s three in three for the captain, scoring when we need him to most.

Lazio continue to drop points and Juventus win to move into second. The gap though is still 8 points.

Rossi is called into the Italy squad. He’s 32, uncapped and averaging 6.29. Oh Italy.

Weah’s back for the return leg with Barcelona. It continues where it left off, a slugfest. Both teams are landing heavy blows and with the score at 3-2 on the night, Pizzi takes the metaphor too literally and judo throws Albertini. He’s off, Weah scores from the resulting free kick and that’s that. Maldini scores for a 4th consecutive game to seal it – his 9th of the season.

Rossi’s injury gave a chance to 23 year old Pagotto. I don’t want to alarm anybody but in 2007 je tested positive for cocaine and was banned from football for life. Although this was reduced, he was 41 by the time it expired. Thankfully Rossi will only miss a week – but it does cost him his place with Italy.

Some big scores there but we’ll face the only team who scored more than us – Bayern Munich. Oliver Kahn will be suspended but they’ve signed Frank De Boer and Slaven Bilic. More on them next week.

The Internationals pass by without further injury incident, a miracle in itself. We finish March with a trip to Roma. They’re 10th and Balbo is out injured, so hopefully we can get away from the capital with the points.

Albertini scores but departs injured before half time. A torn hamstring will end his season, a huge shame. We look likely to hang on to all three points but a late goal from Del boy means we have to settle for a point. Juventus win to cut the gap to 6.

Albertini’s 7 goals and 13 assists will take some replacing. There are only 7 league games to go but with at least two Champions League games to come plus a two-legged Coppa Italia final there’s plenty of work to do. With the rate we get injuries we’re never far from a crisis.

Join me next week for the penultimate episode. April has a busy schedule for us. Not only do we face Bayern twice but there’s both legs of the final as well three Serie A games to negotiate. Some would say it is a pivotal month. Arrivederci!