Mid 90's Milan - Part Six

Written by @cm9798

Welcome back to Mid 90’s Milan. Last week, we may have crossed over from 96 to 97 but it aged me far more than one month should. Some heavy defeats and some equally industrial tackling left us bruised in every sense. Progression in the Champions League was secured but a future clash with Barcelona has us worried.

We did at least battle back to top the table, but there’s a long way to go. Too long.

We start this episode with a home game with bottom club Cagliari. They class Ramon Vega as a star player, which may go some way to explaining their plight. Another star player is Roberto Muzzi, but he has only managed 3 goals in 21 games. We have Savicevic and Dugarry back from long term injuries on the bench. We actually have a clean bill of health for the first time ever.

This one goes pleasingly to form. The only disappointment is we only score twice from 18 shots – but then again, future Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Marco Pascolo was in nets for them, so what can we really expect?

Juventus draw at home to Udinese so our lead is up to 3 points. A tremendous weekend.

Just three days later and we face Udinese in the cup semi finals. It is two legs but with the first leg at home, a big lead would be preferable. Star striker Marcio Amoroso is injured and they’ve decided to bench Bierhoff, but it doesn’t stop them taking the lead. George Weah though is starting to come into his own. He heads an equaliser before slotting a pen for 2-1. Savicevic gives us breathing space before Udinese turn to kill mode and cost us three players. Our clean bill of health didn’t last very long. Weah completes his hat-trick and we are left to count the cost of success.

Six weeks for Costacurta is the big news. Just a week for Savicevic and two for Boban.

Manager of the month for January! That makes up for that difficult December.

It’s soon apparent why Udinese decided to kick us to death. We’re off to face them in the league right now. As well as the three injuries, Desailly and Panucci are suspended.

Albertini goes off injured (sigh) and on comes young Ambrosini. Weah is running wild giving us the lead with a mazy run and finish but a header from a corner equalises. Weah scores with a header himself to put us back in front but then Ambrosini is sent off for a hack at Thomas Helveg. Francesco Coco then gets injured and I’ve used all my subs so we’re down to 9…

Weah completes his second hat-trick of the week against this opponent and despite a late Bierhoff free kick and a lot of pressure, we hold out.

Well done George lad. Six weeks out for Albertini but an International break gives us a few weeks to get some off the treatment table.

Maldini gets injured for two weeks playing for Italy. For goodness sake.

Can anybody play left back?

Quite the pickle. It’s bottom club Verona today, so we should win. It’s a disjointed performance, with 33 year old Galli at left back but a screamer from Boban and a late header from Weah secures the points.

Juventus can only draw 0-0 with Perugia. Five point gap!

It’s the return leg of the Udinese match and although we are 4-1 up they are comfortably ahead on the kill count. Coco and Desailly are back for us which is a relief. Vierchowod can barely manage one game a week at his age, two would be a serious risk. What’s important is, no more injuries! Davids even seals a late win on the night but it’s a comfortable progression.

We’ll play Serie B side Brescia in the final. More on them in April.

Our last game of February and indeed this update takes us to Perugia. They’re actually up in 7th and have had some success against sides you wouldn’t expect this season, beating Juventus and Inter. I can see why. We can barely get a kick and thoroughly deserve to lose. Food for thought.

The only plus from a miserable Sunday is Juventus losign 1-0 at Vicenza. Lazio won 4-0 and move into second as our nearest rivals.

There’s still 11 games to go and March is shaping up to be a pivotal month. Two matches against Barcelona, the Milan derby and tough games with Roma and Sampdoria. You won’t want to miss that so please join me next week to see how we get on. Tata for now.

Mid 90's Milan - Part Three

Written by Dave Black @cm9798

Welcome back! We’re up to episode 3 of Mid 90s Milan and so far, we’re getting by but only just. Trying to find the right formula for this star studded squad is easier said than done. We are however top of the Serie A table after five games and frankly, that’s all that matters. It’s a home game with Perugia to kick off October – an easy game on paper but they just toppled Juventus, so we can’t afford to be slack. We’re always kind of slack.

Perugia have two names of particular note. Marco Negri sits on the bench – he’d go on to score a lot of goals in his first season at Rangers before injuries curtailed that. They also have an 18 year old Ivan “called me Gennaro” Gattuso who has an aggression stat of 11 and therefore I can only assume is a complete unknown at this point. A rather bigger threat is a certain Massimiliano Allegri. The current Juventus manager is a star player for our visitors and is valued at £7.5m. We best keep an eye on him.

As for us, well I’ve had enough of Blomqvist’s subpar efforts so Stefano Eranio is in. Baggio gets us off to the perfect start, the divine ponytail meets a cross in the fifth minute and everything is good. As usual a second goal doesn’t follow and we are soon pegged back. Just after half time though and future Derby man Eranio gets on the end of a great ball from Baggio and it looks like our usual shoddy approach will scrape us through. Michel Kreek has other ideas though. He bends in a gem of a free kick (the text really sold it to me) and it looks like we’ll have to settle for a disappointing point. Substitute Dugarry has other ideas though. He drives a long range effort home in injury time. If playing poorly and winning is a sign of a good team, we’re unbelievable.

One more game to get through before the International break and we are without Boban, who stubbed his toe. Marcel Desailly has also broken a cheekbone to get himself two weeks off. They join Davids, Maldini and Costacurta in missing the trip to Vicenza. Wow.

Our hosts don’t have the most star studded of squads. They’ve spent £1.8m on Steve Lomas from Man City and he starts in the centre of their midfield. Right. The less said about our side the better. The centre halves are 37 and 36. Coco is a clown. Eranio and Blomqvist are either side of a midfield three. I don’t have a lot of hope for this.

We’re 2-0 down at half time. Vierchowod has looked every one of his 37 years of age. He scored an own goal and nearly gave away a pen. Lomas has ran the game. I need to do…something. Blomqvist has a 4.

What to do? Reiziger comes on to play centre back and Ambrosini, just 18, is on for Blomqvist. It’s soon 3-0 and I just want to go home.

The International break is a chance for us to lick our wounds. Quite literally in several cases. Maldini recovers to play for Italy but he gets injured at the hands of Wales. Another two weeks of Coco.

Still, we’re able to field Costacurta and Boban for the visit of CSKA Sofia in the Champions League. I rather foolishly said anything other than 12 points for the two games against CSKA and FC Croatia would be a failure. Thankfully this is not the banana skin it might have been.

We’re still on home turf for the clash with Sampdoria. Their squad is full of stories. Sebastian Veron (missing his Juan) is a 21-year-old striker, normally partnered by current Italy manager Roberto Mancini. He’s injured which is a relief as he’s a star player. Sinisa Mihailovic is classified as a left winger but still has 20 for set pieces. They’ve spent £1.2m to bring Dunga over from the J League. The Brazil captain is in midfield with Christian Karembeu. We are unchanged!

A tight game is opened up when Savicevic gets taken out in the box and Albertini does the rest. Veron might be missing his Juan but none of his ability as his measured chip levels things up. Savicevic smashes home a free kick and Panucci seals the points. Routine in the end, with the usual mid game struggle.

We trail Napoli on goal difference only but we go up against them next – in the cup. It’s an awful draw for a third round tie. I’m not really sure why Napoli are doing so well, their squad is unremarkable. Ayala and Cruz are a good centre half partnership but their star man appears to be Caio Ribeiro. He starred in the FIFA Youth Championships in 1995 which prompted Napoli to buy him, but he was rubbish for them. Just like this cup tie. It’s a replay. The only good news is that Desailly returned to the starting 11 whilst Davids got 20 minutes from the bench.

That’s big news because it’s the small matter of the Milan derby next. Maldini returns on the day of the game. I don’t care how unfit he is, he’s better than Coco. Inter’s squad is magnificent. Pagliuca is unbelievable between the sticks whilst penalty king Paul Ince lines up in midfield. Zanetti, Berti, Winter, Zamorano, Djorkaeff…the list goes on. They also have Gianluca Festa, which looks like an opportunity to me.

We are nominally the away side as we share the San Siro. I can see we’re in trouble from the first whistle. Ince is unbelievable and Zanetti ends up playing the perfect 10. We’re lucky to only lose 3-2. The front three were barely in the game and that’s a major concern. On the plus side, Davids made a big impression off the bench and Weah, also a sub, set him up. He’s been the biggest disappointment so far.

Well that stings. The last action of October comes against Juventus in the Champions League. We owe our fans not only for the derby shitshow but for losing the reverse game earlier in the group stages. Our task is made easier when Schottel commits a cynical foul on Simone and is dismissed. Albertini blasts the pen over the bar – it’s not my fault, I quite literally can’t select any set piece takers. Desailly heads in from a corner and Simone finishes a one on one. Good. The game is petering out until Del Piero pulls one back and it’s a mad final ten minutes. The woodwork is struck by both teams several times and I’m grateful to Desailly finishing the game with a burst forward from open play for no real reason. We had 23 shots to their 5, 15 on target. Peruzzi is the best but we still beat him three times. I need a lie down.

We are looking well placed to go through but Juventus haven’t done their side of the bargain. They’ve let CSKA make this a three horse race and I have limited time for that, especially as we need to go to Bulgaria yet.

We’re just one point off the top but it’s still fairly early days.

Join me next time to see what November has in store for us. Hopefully we can reclaim top spot and get through in the Champions League but in reality is will probably be more injuries and 4’s from Jesper bloody Blomqvist. Goodbye!