So I’m not going to go through and rank the players or recap the match. I might do that later, but I’m not going to now.
What I’m going to do is say why I’m not willing to give Milan the praise a lot of other people are throwing their way.
I can give credit to teams that beat Barcelona. Let’s get that out of the way right now. I gave credit to Sociedad for their comeback last month. They deserved to win. I gave credit to Celtic, because they had a strategy and executed it cleanly and perfectly on a special night against a much more accomplished team. I even gave Real Madrid credit and wasn’t upset when they won the Spanish Super Cup, because I felt that in the second leg, Barcelona were just bad.
I can take a step back and acknowledge when the other team did well, even when the other team are my team’s biggest rivals.
But there are also instances where I don’t give credit to the other team. Chelsea are one instance. Milan tonight are now another.
Here’s the crux of the problem for me: my expectations of a team change depending on who the team is. For a team like Celtic, I look at a parked bus and say, “You know what? That makes sense. They’re doing what they have to do against a much more accomplished team, and they did it cleanly. They deserve credit for that.”
But for teams like Chelsea, or Milan – top teams in the four best leagues in the world who qualify for the Champions League year after year – the standards are higher. Some teams play more offensively, and some play more defensively – I prefer to watch teams that press, overall, but there’s nothing wrong with playing a more defensive game. It’s a legitimate approach that I respect.
However, there’s a difference between a strong defense and bus parking, and bus parking should be beneath teams that are ranked among the top 15 in Europe. Parking the bus doesn’t impress me when you’re one of the best teams in Europe. When you’re one of the best teams in Europe, you shouldn’t have to resort to something so unimaginative. Milan have a lot of players who are skilled at what they do. They have players who were in the final of the Euro last summer, and who got there playing attractive football. (Surprisingly, for Italy, but it happened.) For a team like that to park the bus…
I’m not going to heap praise on them. I’m not going to call them brave. And I’m certainly not going to say that they should be admired.
That said, Barcelona were god awful tonight, and probably didn’t really deserve to win. I just don’t think Milan deserves any praise for how they won.