These Are The Champions

Wednesday morning, I wake up earlier than usual, my stomach feels empty but at the same time, when I try to have some breakfast, everything tastes bad. I put some questionable music on while doing my duties. Somehow I feel that hearing those songs will change the outcome of everything, at least I get extra motivated and pumped for that crucial moment that is going to happen in a few hours. It’s a compilation of songs that I’ve heard before any crucial Milan game since I can remember and stuck in my mind for the rest of the day (weather I had them on my playlist or simply heard it on the radio or saw a YouTube video).

It’s a Champions League matchday and I’m clearly feeling it in me. I can’t concentrate on anything else; I go back and forth to the forum, particularly the game thread, then I go to Gazzetta dello Sport to see any updates and just an hour before the game I log on to to see the starting lineup.

My heart is clearly accelerated, I try to replicate the same food, music and clothing I wore during an important CL match that Milan won. I try to keep myself from saying anything that might jinx the game. I know that nothing will truly have an effect on the game but deep down inside I do it cause it’s the only thing I’m capable of doing for Milan at this distance and with no money.

It’s just 15 minutes before the game. I’m biting my nails, anxiety is getting the best of me, I’m officially 100% unproductive and my mind is completely set on Milan and nothing more. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I’m older and with more responsibilities (for the record: night European games start at 12:45 or 1:45 pm here).

Teams enter the pitch. Suddenly my heart beats are slower but somehow deeper. The Champions League anthem starts sounding, the camera rolls over each team. And I see Nesta’s, Gattuso’s, Ambrossini’s, Pirlo’s, Seedorf’s and Inzaghi’s face, and I feel calm. I can trust them; I know they’ll put their all in the game and that they’re gonna fight for the last ball till the last minute.

For Wednesday’s match, it seems that only Nesta will be there in the starting lineup but I trust a newer generation of Milan players to carry on with this tradition. It’s gonna be a complicated game, no doubt about it, we have to turn around a 0-1 score line in our favor and we can count our midfield players available (at least the ones that will realistically play) with just one hand.

If we (yes, “we”, in moments like these, management, coaches, squad, fans are all a unit) go out with a defeated attitude or loser mentality, that’s all we’re gonna get, without a doubt. But if we go out with the conviction that we have to overcome that result, that we will leave everything we have in White Heart Lane, then we’ll have a chance.

I’m not saying we’ll win for sure, there’s no guarantee in that. However, it’s hard to lose a game when your players go out in the same style Inzaghi did right after he was subbed in the return game against Real Madrid last November, fighting and running for each ball, believing in his ability to change the outcome of the game. As a fan, it’s something that will always be appreciated (at the highest level).

Miracles don’t just happen; you have to work hard to achieve them, you can’t expect things to be served on a silver platter. Wednesday night we’ll see the character of our team and of our players and if they do show it, regardless of the result, we will feel proud about them.

My best moments as a Milan fan are those that happen when things seem impossible to achieve, when the team turns things around, whether it is in the course of a season or the course of a game, because you can see how much passion the players put in.

All in all I’m a believer, I believe that this team is capable of big things, and I’ve seen what we’re capable of when everyone leaves their heart on the pitch (best example being the game against Inter, though the second half against Real Madrid is right up there). I believe that we can get that win. FORZA MILAN!

Champions League: Tottenham vs. AC Milan – Match Preview

Video by Cristina.

It’s quite clear that the Milan of Serie A is not the Milan of the Champions league. The fact that Van Bommel, Cassano and Urby cannot play is really what is causing this huge gap. This doesn’t mean that Milan should go to White Hart Lane just to play a decent game and get out of the Champions League this season with the least of embarrassments. Serie A might be a much more realistic goal for Milan, but Milan was never about reality. 1994 saw Milan thrash Barcelona’s wonder team. Just four years ago, Milan managed to overcome Bayern Munchen and Manchester United in impressive fashion despite the obstacles the first leg gave in both encounters. It’s a Milan mentality. Even if players like Robinho, Pato, Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Abate aren’t accustomed to seeing Milan do this, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t inherited this mentality from a fellow champion. It’s these kind of things that one learns between the walls in Milanello and from the old guards in the team. There’s a reason why the likes of Seedorf are still on the Milan roster and it’s not all about loyalty.

Many may argue the thought but this is one of Milan’s toughest games if not the toughest. They are traveling to a ground that has caused troubles for Inter Milan and pretty much most English teams; that and the fact that Tottenham have an away goal in their hand. It promises that it’s going to be a tough encounter, a close-to-impossible one as well, but the players have shown that they are going for a win, and they believe in their abilities.

Milan were boosted with the news that Boateng, injured in Milan’s match against Juventus, might be able to start (or play) the game against Spurs. At back, Antonini and Zambrotta will be back but it is expected that Jankulovski will play due to his impressive recent performances and the fact that he’s physically more ready than the previously injured duo. Tottenham on the other hand will most probably have Bale (possible start from the bench) and even Van Der Vaart back, which will give them a relief from an offensive point of view. Milan though will have to do without Pirlo and Ambrosini which are injured and Gattuso which is suspended.

What Milan really need in this game is patience. Its one thing Allegri has pleaded for in most of Milan’s games and boy do they need that on Wednesday night! The Rosseneri can’t afford to do what they did in San Siro again, as this time one mistake will immediately knock Milan out of the Champions League. Milan are only one goal behind, one very precious yet small deficit. Il Diavalo lost their first encounter due to the loss of that patience itself. They all drove forward when they really didn’t need to leaving the field craving for Lennon to take Yepes on. That mistake is what caused the difference. Milan can’t afford to do that again. They need to be very patient. The goals will eventually come. They always came this season, one way or another, and it’s bound to happen if you have players like Ibrahimovic, Pato, and Robinho in front. Milan will be waiting for just one Tottenham mistake, forced or unforced, to take advantage.

Yet, this is all talk. Every single Milan player out there must give it his all. Not just that, as giving one’s all isn’t enough, they all need to perform amazingly as well. Ibrahimovic will have the motive of silencing his critics if he manages to lead Milan to victory. Flamini will need to prove he’s not the animal the English media made him look like and he’s out there to prove why he was once considered one of the best DMs in the Premier League. But, it’s not only about the individual motives. EVERY SINGLE player in the Milan squad will go out there and avenge for Gennaro Gattuso – the player that had to hear the nonsense of the biased and short sighted media all over the world. The players will fight for their fellow brother and their leader on the pitch.

A quote from 300 pretty much sums what Milan need to do: “Give them nothing, but take from them everything”. Be aware White Hart Lane, Il Diavalo ranks are coming to make your land a graveyard of your very own soldiers.

Expected Formations:

Tottenham : Gomez, Hutton , Dawson , Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Jenas, Modric, Bale, Van Der Vaart and Crouch.

Milan : Abbiati , Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Jankulovski, Flamini , Seedorf, Boateng, Robinho, Pato and Ibrahimovic