The AC Milan Women lost the first game of their two-game tie against ACF Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia Femminile.
It was a disappointing result, with the only cold comfort from this being that the loss could have been so much worse, but Milan did just enough to make sure it wasn’t.
The Match Itself
Milan came into the match at a disadvantage. Starting centre-back Laura Fusetti was suspended for the tie after accumulating a red card in the previous game against Inter.
Laura’s absence at the back was truly felt, as her defensive stability combined with her ability to marshal the backline, was sorely needed.
Also missing from the line-up were starting midfielder Nora Heroum, and in-form forward Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdottir. The two of them had both come down with the flu, and coach Maurizio Ganz decided to give them a rest.
Fiorentina had the benefit of being able to field a full-strength squad, while Milan were missing several key players. The advantages of this became apparent throughout the match.
Despite their initial disadvantages, Milan had actually started off the game well. Their first chance of the half came at the five-minute mark, as Linda Tucceri Cimini’s shot went wide of the target.
That was soon followed up by Fiorentina’s Lisa De Vanna, who had her own shot on target at the 7th minute. Both the initial shot and the subsequent one were parried by Milan’s goalkeeper, Mária Korenčiová. Once again, she came up with two, absolutely vital saves, and for most of the first half, she singlehandedly kept Milan in the game.
The miss of the half, however, would come courtesy of Miriam Longo, who had a golden opportunity to put Milan ahead at the 17th minute, but her header sailed over the crossbar.
There were chances for both teams at both ends, as the first half was characterized by end-to-end action. Initially, it seemed like Fiorentina had carved out the better chances for themselves, and looked like the team that were more likely to score.
Milan would, however, be the ones to draw first blood, and they did so at the 64th minute. The goal was scored by none other than Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi, the ex-Fiorentina player herself.
The Viola’s resident Case of The Ex would provide Milan with their only moment of joy the whole entire game.
The game, unfortunately, would just go downhill from here. The rest of the match was fraught with many issues, particularly in defence. This was due to the fact that many of Milan’s starters were absent for this game, chief among them being the previously mentioned Laura Fusetti.
Fiorentina’s attack made short work of the Rossonere’s defence, as both Stine Hovland and Francesca Vitale had trouble dealing with the Viola’s movement and speed.
Francesca Vitale, in particular, seems to have suffered the most, as she lost her one-on-one battles with Fiorentina’s captain, Alia Guagni. This would culminate in a great way at the 69th minute when the Viola captain broke through the Milan defence and scored a goal that made both teams level. (It should be noted, however, that Guagni was actually offside when she scored that goal.)
Fiorentina also took advantage of Milan’s bare-bones midfield, as they managed to successfully snuff out any play from the middle by doubling up on Milan’s main source of creativity, Refiloe Jane. As a result of this, Milan were forced to resort to lobbing long balls to their players, in response to the Viola’s relentless pressure.
The Viola would once again find the back of the net at the 72nd minute thanks to their talisman, Tatiana Bonetti.
They were able to see the tie through and emerged victorious at the final whistle. The combination of having a full-strength squad, a backline marshalled by one of the world’s best right-backs, and a lethal attack would prove to be too much for the Rossonere.
Fiorentina won the match and will carry this advantage with them back to Firenze. We’ll meet again on February 26th and the Milan Women will have a mountain to climb as they try to advance to the semifinals.
The Few Positives
Mária Korenčiová was the undisputed MVP of the match, as her saves prevented the scoreline from being much worse than it actually was.
And in a strange way, the dark cloud that was Laura Fusetti’s expulsion did have a silver lining, as it made us realize just how much we miss her at the back. Most of all, it just made us realize how much we need her as well.
Let’s hope that we’ll have very few Fusetti fewer games in the future.
There were many lamentations about this game (the previously mentioned Guagni goal being one of them). However, Maurizio Ganz has a que será será attitude about the whole entire affair.
Mister #Ganz al termine di #MilanFiorentina 🎙️
"Oggi è andata male ma ci riproveremo al ritorno. Abbiamo comunque fatto una grande gara contro una grande Fiorentina, sono due squadre che lottano fino alla fine e ci siamo anche noi"@RadioRossonera pic.twitter.com/pReIZqHpA1
— Lucia Pirola (@epiphoned_) February 8, 2020
What has happened has happened. And whatever will be will be.
Now, it’s time to pick up the pieces and to move onto the next objective.
What Happens Next
Milan will take on Tavagnacco on Saturday, February 8th, at 12:00 p.m. CEST (3 a.m. PST / 6 a.m. EST).
While the team’s Coppa Italia hopes might be on life support, their Champions League dreams are alive and well.
And they can keep it alive for a little while longer with a win against Tavagnacco.