AC Milan reach Champions League semi-finals with aggregate win

As with all apologies from Dua Lipa, it takes more than one kiss (I think if I met Dua Lipa I’d have a strong urge to apologize for a lot of things, but why didn’t you call).

Italian football still has a reputation – One that’s not really true anymore — Being highly tactical and defensive. It is perhaps one that will be hard pressed to shake if it wants to even move into the same stratosphere of international popularity as the Premier League, and it is a league full of vibrant attacking teams. catenaccio It is no longer common practice in Italy, but decades of its use are hard to erase from the memory banks.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t part of the book when needed, and AC Milan certainly referenced them and the history of Italian football when they upset Napoli in the Champions League quarter-finals yesterday. and it was a bother, given that there are There are 22 points between these two teams in the league, with Napoli in the running to claim the Scudetto and Milan struggling just to stay in the top four. Even more astonishing, it was the third time in a span of 16 days that Milan had thwarted Napoli’s powerful and artistic attack. Napoli has scored 66 goals in 30 league games, for fuck’s sake. But he could only play more than 270 minutes in the quarter-final two legs against Milan. and league defeat at home.

In addition to being open for 10 minutes in both legs, Milan eliminated every threat by fielding their two holding midfielders, Sandro Tonali and Rad Krunic, right up their backline, leaving no space between those lines, which Napoli’s location. Piotr Zielinski or Stanislav Lobotka would be out of control. This forced Napoli to look for wingers to find any space.

In general, Napoli will be fine With this, because Matteo Politano or Hirving Lozano on the right and especially Khwicha Kvartskhelia on the left can create chances at will. But in the first leg, Napoli were without the injured Victor Osimhen and the only freshman to return in the second leg, and without him they didn’t really have the threat to get on the end of crosses.

Which probably didn’t matter as much, as both Milan fullbacks were exemplary, especially right back Davide Calabria, who carried Kvartskhelia in his pocket in a way that would have Milan legend Paolo Maldini grumbling in the executive box when so far we’re continuing the theme of going back to the good old days (it’s always a good pick-me-up to think of Maldini and those eyes You can rediscover your childhood).

Calabria plays lockdown defense

Kvartskhelia has perhaps been the revelation of the European season at Napoli, a reverse winger who has turned every defense he has made into confetti. He was given nothing by Calabria, who treated Napoli’s attack with no more than the claws of a kitten.

And even when Napoli did manage to get crosses into the box, almost all of them found the defiant volleys of Fikayo Tomori or Simon Kjur. Napoli attempted 45 crosses yesterday, and only 10 of them found a teammate, that was rampant nature of Tomori and Kejriwal (my principal once told me in grad school and I use that adjective for my equipment, in case you were wondering. Revenge is sweet).

goals rossnerie needed

Of course, you still need to score, and Milan needed only two amazing pieces of individuality on the counter to get the goals they needed. We went into the first leg on Brahim Díaz’s turn which led to Ismail Bennaceris the winner of, but there’s no reason we can’t enjoy it again:

Yesterday, it was Rafael Leao’s turn as he picked up a loose ball some 85 yards from goal and thought he’d get a good jog through half the Napoli team before Olivier Giroud set up:

And that was it. Napoli scored a late goal, but it was always a consolation. The beauty, as we are told, of catenaccio is that it is simple. You defend well, you take your chances when you inevitably get it on the counter, you win. Actually a reference to Italian food or the simplicity of life. Sometimes football is that simple. When you have defenders playing so well, and players like Diaz Leo Able to turn the field into your own private F1 track, what more could you want?

Follow Sam on Twitter @felsgate As he is talking about Xabi Alonso replacing Jurgen Klopp in the near future.