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Photo by Sebastiano Sali
Milan-PSV 3-0: the playoff match seen from San Siro
The journey, the desperate research of a parking lot, the tension. And the victory. You never get bored if you support rossoneri
by Sebastiano Sali
Going to the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in San Siro-Milan, is a never an ordinary experience. First, because the 2 hours drive with four football fans means talking about anything but players (‘I have played against Poli when we both were 16, you’ll see him tonight!’), managers, tactics, opponents (‘I went to Eindhoven for work once and I stopped by PSV’s training centre: they run like hell!’) for the whole trip: and that, at least for me, is definitely out of the ordinary.

Second, because once you have parked the car and you are walking to the Meazza and then you see it, at some point, standing up in all its magnificence, with the majestic columns swirling to the third ring, with the fans already in signing songs that you never sing but you know by heart anyway, then, at ‘La Scala del Calcio’, you do feel the Football. Then you walk in. Funny enough nobody is talking anymore, as if we were all finding the right concentration to quickly get rid of PSV and waiting for the draw the following day. Step after step the noise is louder and louder. The air is thick, of humidity and passion. Red and black, jerseys, scarves, hats, flags, everywhere. The last staircase, there we are, sector 231.

We see some light and there it is, the Meazza unfolds in all its powerful inner mighty, as the magma ready to explode: the green pitch, the colourful Curva Sud, the tiny group of Dutch supportes, up there in the third ring that you really have to look for them to know that they are there. And the players, the heroes, warming up. Mattia De Sciglio, the young heir of a great captain, Paolo Maldini. Stephan El Shaarawy, from the pyramids of Savona to the Dome of Milan with a suitcase full of goals. And then him, Mario Balotelli, remarkably undefinable, who doesn’t need any introduction, especially for British football fans. These are our favourites: and no hard feelings to the others or to the PSV players; but this is not an objective article.

To be frank with you, the match is the least extraordinary event of the night. AC Milan seems angry enough after the terrible Saturday in Verona: after 9’ The Prince scores a delightful goals making the Meazza jumping for the first time in the night. The prelude to a smooth, ventilated night of late summer. But AC Milan is an incomplete and inchoate team: The Pharaoh El Shaarawy is unlucky hitting the bar after half an hour, but for the rest the team is unable to impose its game on the visitors which, in turn, fail a couple of good chances to equalise.

PSV’s kids are young and hungry and they show it immediately in the second half, when AC’s goalkeeper Abbiati has to make the most important save of the season on Wijnaldun’s shot. AC is shaken and its worst moment of the match is once again him, The Striker - they used to call him the blue supporters of Manchester - to rescue the team from troubled waters. Balotelli, 2-0, the Meazza is sparkling jubilant for his favourite hero and the match is agonistically over. There is time only to appreciate the work of Poli (my friend was then right!) and the Dutchman De Jong, who made AC’s midfield much more solid and geometric. The last goal by Boateng is a very good team-work result, again with Poli as main character, and saves The Prince from a performance that without the two goals would have been mediocre. As for the PSV, a bit unlucky true, but they didn’t do much to deserve the qualification.

We walk out signing happily, greeting the bright columns of the Meazza, crawling with jubilant people ready to just enjoy their tired but happy way home. But, as I said, the Meazza is never an ordinary experience. We stop to buy some water, the bar has a TV showing AC’s manager, Allegri, declaring his will to resign tomorrow! What!? We are all incredulous. Not really sad, none of us is really fond with him, but after having been criticised for the match in Eindhoven and then for the defeat in Verona he finally has some time to enjoy and instead!? I might have been outside Italy for too long now, but its football is just like the country itself: when you think that things are doing just as good...

A couple of last remarks. AC Milan supporters booing PSV players when the speakers was reading the squad: what a disappointment! But let’s not be mistaken, this is not Italy. Have a look at any sort of rugby match, yes in Italy too, and that will never happen. FAIL.

The condition of the outskirts of the stadium, already before the match: a waste dump. FAIL.

AC Milan’s transfer market. Allegri, who in fact none of us is fond with, claims a striker, the most certainly not remarkable Alessandro Matri from Juventus’ bench, to strengthen up the squad. Yes, alongside El Shaarawy, Balotelli, Pazzini (yes, the one of Italy’s hattrick in the brand new Wembley), Niang, Boateng and a couple of good youngsters. Whereas the defence, with the only Zapata and Mexes (‘Who?’ - yes, that’s the most common reaction), seems to be ok for the club and for its manager. Yes, like Fort Alamo, it resisted for a while but who won the siege at the end? FAIL, FAIL, FAIL.

Thursday, August 29 th, 2013
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