If you missed the first, and last five minutes of Napoli-Milan, then you missed every single goal.
Ahh Alessandro Nesta, how much we missed you today. After being subbed off in the first half for the other Kakha, our defense slowly unraveled, allowing two Napoli goals in the final five minutes.
At this time last year I doubted if Nesta would ever don a soccer jersey again, and now all I've been hearing is the argument that Nesta is playing as good or even better than he ever has in his long, prolific career. After taking a year off to bask in the scorching sun of Miami Beach, a rejuvenated Nesta came back healthy, tan, and most importantly: determined.
Pray Nesta's injury is not serious. His experience in the back line is invaluable, especially to Thiago Silva who is still learning his trade in the Serie A. Kakhaber Kaladze has shown us he can net own goal braces, Giuseppe Favalli is anywhere from 55-70 years old, Daniele Bonera's face is now on milk cartons all over the world, and Oguchi Onyewu is built like a linebacker and quite frankly, terrifies me. If Alessandro is out, the Rossoneri defense will once again become our achilles heel, just like last season. Anyways, onto the game.
- Milan dominated the first ten minutes. The first score came from the usual perfectly timed run by Super Pippo, slotting a volley into the back of the net. The second goal came courtesy of Napoli's lackluster defense which left open a gap wider than the Panama Canal. Pato receives the ball in the middle of the field and sees nothing but green pastures ahead, a clinical 1v1 finish against the keeper.
- After receiving a few hundred angry e-mails, several death threats, and a slew of taunts from my last column, I am contemplating whether it's in my best interest to never mention the "Hunters" name again.
- The strangest subplot of the Milan season so far: Nelson Dida making one of the worst mistakes ever seen by a goalkeeper against Madrid, and surprisingly redeeming himself the next few games with a slew of unbelievable saves. It's almost unnatural typing this onto the keyboard but the truth is that he has been spectacular the past few games. Well done Nelson.
- The start of the season has shown us that Thiago Silva is a very capable defender who makes some spectacular stops, but he seems a bit too error prone for my liking. Hopefully the Senderosian side of him will soon be gone as he accumulates more experience over the next few months.
- How strange, the Milan strike force today seemed organized, more energetic, and actually gave us a comfortable lead for most of the game. It's much easier to create chances when your starting attacker isn't a fan who won a raffle contest to appear in a real live game. (Sorry Huntelaar nation, you deserved it.)
- If it's too good to be true, in most instances it probably is. For the first time all season, I was able to relax. We had a comfortable lead, and our opponents defense looked about as secure as a Russian Tupolev. But as the clock kept ticking, Napoli started pressing more and more. In came three more offensive players, the regista Luca Cigarini, target man German Denis and the very talented winger Jesus Datolo. Why did I have this deep rooted, queasy feeling that Napoli were going to score?
- My fear quickly becomes a reality. Cigarini just had to hit the volley of his life in this game, which sparked the Napoletan crowd into a frenzied state. As the chants of the maniacal fans became enough to drown out the announcers voices, Napoli pressed harder, and a final cross landed on German Denis' head and beat Dida to the near post. 2-2. What a way to squander two points. A win today would have put us in Champions League territory, and to think that only a few weeks ago we were fighting the relegation battle with the likes of Siena and Livorno.
Please check out my other columns as well and leave your feedback. Bookmark this page. Make it your Milan bible.