To begin with, I owe all you Inter fans a “heartfelt” apology. Or rather, no, let’s not start off with a lie. I’m not even dreaming of apologising. The account below might offend some of you so read at own risk. I’m willing to take anything you want to post: insults, statistics, death threats, the like.
But writing about the Derby Della Madonnina invokes more passion and heart than objectivity and brains, at least if you are on one of the sides involved. I will not, for one minute in this contribution, take a step back from my being an ardent Rossonero for the sake of being politically correct, Catholic, unbiased, virgin and teetotal like all journalists are expected to be. I will be the ultimate nemesis of your pathetic lackey Roberto Scarpini and I will lunge at your conscience psychologically throughout the duration of this article; I will assume the role of the angry pitbull, eminent gladiator, the Underdog, as Kasabian crudely put it down in their last album.
Normally I would not be afraid to criticise my own team. Not today, no, there’s our pride, glorious history and present at stake. So I will never stoop down to agreeing with anything Interista.
Call this The Blasphemous Article in Football.
For all the Rossoneri fans reading this, this is the account of the glorious derby win over the other team from the city (their name escapes me), a match I followed for the first ever team from the Milan club in Qormi. While most of you have probably felt the same as I did, please do not try this at home.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
19:30 I’m tense. Not shitting myself. Well I am, almost. I’m nervously sipping water as I drive, secretly praying there’s a container carrying cigarettes that’s gone belly up around the corner.
20:01 Inter President Massimo Moratti on Sky Sport: “Ibrahimovic? I like him, I will never say anything against him. The duel against Materazzi tonight will be interesting, Marco will have to work hard to do well.”
20:02 More from Moratti: I hadn’t thought of the Istanbul [Champions League 2005 final between Liverpool and Milan] connection. Hope Benitez is under a lucky star against Milan and that he will confirm that tonight.” He conveniently forgot to mention that Milan beat Benitez’s Liverpool in the 2007 final, going on the win the seventh Champions League title in their history. People stuck at three deem it fit to brag about the others’ successes.
20:13 Pudgy Benitez on Sky Sport: “We won an incredible game at Istanbul. Another incredible game awaits us, it’s worth three points but it’s much more than your average game for us and for the fans. Tonight you will see why I chose the diamond formation.” Oh yes, that must prove you right, the diamond and 2005. Bet he is still surprised to see someone other than Ancelotti on the Milan touchline.
20:15 Flask, live from the Milan Club in Qormi: I forgot the last time I had come here. No I actually don’t think I’ve ever been here. There are so many pictures of Milan lifting the Champions Cup/League that I get dizzy looking round the place and soon need to sit down. The walls must be emptier in other clubs. Our entourage includes myself, impromptu Rossonero Drey, 1m90-something soldier Giljan, Greg, myself, girlfriends (75% of whom are not interested in proceedings) and a couple of others we meet inside. Why am I watching the derby at the club?
I can’t suffer alone.
20:40 Five minutes to go. The teams make their entrance inside the field. Inter’s choreography is some unspeakably ugly banner about their treble that no-one in Manchester would have dreamt of. Milan are missing Pirlo, Pato and Inzaghi, Inter miss people like Maicon, Samuel, Cambiasso and Julio Cesar. The last two are on the bench, so thankfully, tonight, Castellazzi is in goal. I am pretty much the only one to let go of a loud cheer as his name shows up on the match intro graphics.
20:42 I receive an SMS: “Ciao Merda” (“Hello, pieces of shit”). Note to self to reply after the match irrespective of the result.
20:45 Kickoff. Ibrahimovic touches the first ball of the match, drowned by whistles from Inter’s curva. Inside the club, another chant warms our hearts: “Materazzi figlio di puttana…” [Materazzi son of a whore]
20:47 Abate darts past Chivu, who, still deep in his siesta, watches as the ball sails into the area and onto Clarence Seedorf’s head. He misses by a mile but we all exclaim before letting go a round of applause. Come on Clarence. I would have scored that myself.
20:49 Inter’s backline shows the solidity of a corroded Trabant suspension. Ibra faces Lucio one on one, but God bless Materazzi, as the hapless number 23 tackles Ibra’s ankles and brings him down onto his back inside the area. The ref can’t do much more than signal the foul. No cards though.
20:50 Ibrahimovic steps up with his usual class and verve (sic). Takes the penalty… thumps it in the bottom left corner… GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL. Again guys: GOAAAAAAAAAALLLL. There’s an incredible roar inside the club as copious mass hugging ensues. I find Dolan and Edward standing behind me, suddenly it seems ten years ago when we were still in secondary school and Andres Guglieminpietro won the league with Milan and raspberries from Inter. I lipread Ibra’s insult to the Inter fans: it’s a Bosnian-Swedish expression meaning… cunts. Pity he missed out on repeating his famous gesture of the 2008-09 season. The Maltese ultras meanwhile are chanting every sort of abuse at Inter. I join in for the odd refrain.
20:55 Not much seems to be happening. Save for the continuous abuse chanted by our ultras it would otherwise be a boring match. Inter’s frailty at the back is evident as they let Ibra past once more, this time Cordoba missing his offside step. He makes up with a monumental tackle on Flamini who really should have tapped it in. More exclamations and groaning.
21:05 Ibra’s volley flies high and wide of goal. I wouldn’t have scored that, but surely thought of passing it to Robinho who was all alone in front of Castellazzi waiting for the opportunity to score/miss. Groans of disappointment from the club. I notice I am still shaking meanwhile.
21:15 Inter are intent on showing off their display of nothingness as anything they try to do in midfield crashes against the sandbags formed by the busy Ambrosini-Gattuso-Flamini trio. You see now how well Benitez’s diamond formation is working out. Gattuso is already booked but escapes the second card after bringing down Sneijder. And why should he be carded for bringing down that irritating little Dutchman?
21:20 Inter’s Obi (nice name for a footballer) leaves the pitch, injured. Benitez rushes to substitute him with Cambiasso. “Wait, no, actually let me try attacking Milan a bit. You – your name? Cou-Couwhat? Ok you go in”. After some comedy on the touchline Benitez replaces Obi with Coutinho.
21:25 Coutinho’s first shot goes very wide, which is not surprising considering he’s been firing them high and wide (occasionally backwards) all season. Sneijder goes closer but no cigar. Meanwhile the atmosphere inside the club is slightly more relaxed, considering our hated opponent is closer to conceding than to scoring. The occasional burger bic-chips whizzes by my head as I’m intent on yet another easy catch by Abbiati. Stankovic tries a shot too, it goes high. He gets a very personal round of insults from yours truly.
21:32 Half time. Brief sigh of relief, time for a cigarette and a lot of complicated tactical talk with Giljan and another chappie we meet in the balcony. I’m still on the verge of shitting myself. I’ve grown weaker at these high-octane matches, not anymore. I dare think this could be a great victory for us as we beat them at home and break their unbeaten record after 48 games or something like that. My thoughts vanish instantly as the lights go dim once more. Before we know it it’s the second half.
21:47 The second half begins. Pirlo replaces Gattuso who was booked and very prone to get sent off; Pandev replaces Milito who was absolutely nowhere to be seen. Nothing happens until…
21:59 Time’s gone by so slowly. Sneijder gains a freekick outside the area after a foul by Ambrosini. His shot goes straight at Abbiati who punches the ball away towards Ibrahimovic’s feet, who remembers he is wearing the red shirt and mercifully clears it anywhere, just like Rabat Ajax would do. We all get a brief shiver but we are jeering the Armata Brancaleone again within a few seconds. Is this the team who won the treble? They were either lucky, else the standard must have been very low.
22:00 Sneijder vents his frustration on Abate first. The Milan player is about to leave the pitch with a back injury but decides to soldier on. At this stage the last thing I wanted was to see our little blond dynamo walk off the pitch.
22:02 Sneijder again vents his frustration, this time on Flamini. As the Frenchman gets a serving of soft San Siro turf under the Dutchman’s boot (no need for a yellow card, ref), Abate and Pandev tangle a few yards away. No, actually, Pandev pushes Abate to the ground. But instead of staying down clutching his face like the eminent primadonna CR7 would, Abate gets up and reacts (like a man would do, after all). Tagliavento, up to now Inter’s loyal 12th player, issues a yellow for both. Which, for Abate, booked in the first half, is translated into marching orders.
22:03 I suffer a grievous attack of tourette’s. I lose it big time. I could walk into the pitch through the TV screen right now and repeatedly punch Pandev on the nose. Provoking us huh? You want to win like kids, in eleven against ten huh? Oh I’ll tell you what… before I realise I can’t walk through the screen to get my hands on Pandev. Revenge will have to wait.
22:04 I notice for the first time the guy next to me looking bewildered.
22:05 Time ticks by slowly. Effectively believing it’s now or never, Inter attack. By doing precisely nothing different to what they did before. They pass the ball horizontally and shoot from distance, most shots ending up in the stands or in Abbiati’s pair of gloves.
22:07 A huge step for mankind, or rather, the step of a huge man: we pull one back. Ibrahimovic goes in a 50-50 with Materazzi, our hated enemy, but momentarily ignores the ball and opts to go for Materazzi’s head. He doesn’t miss. Ibra is yellow carded, Materazzi lies on the pitch clutching his right ear. Cheers go round the Milan club. And many fuck you’s too, of varying dimensions and intensity. Biabiany replaces Materazzi who leaves on a stretcher feeling less intelligent than before. No great damage done, I assume.
22:09 Seedorf has taught everyone a masterclass in technique tonight. Pity his left footed shot grazes the left post by a few millimetres. He almost made Castellazzi – and Benitez – look very stupid indeed. Inter, for a change, try a long distance shot. Abbiati has time for yet another tea.
22:17 It’s clear Inter’s defence have practised hard at how to get it wrong. On the other side of the pitch Sneijder seems to be the only one trying to come up with a solution. Eto’o can’t inch past the perfect Thiago Silva. But the siege has yet to begin.
22:20 The siege begins. I’m in trance for the rest of the match. Don’t call me, I’m just not here.
22:30 Try as they might, they huff, they puff, but the house won’t come down. Final whistle: The club erupts. Milan beat Inter 1-0 away. I don’t know whether to cry or laugh. Well actually, I have a message to reply to. With all the elegance that befits the moment, I write: “You pieces of shit, you lost, 11 against 10 and not a shot on goal. Say bye to your home record, goodnite, you’re minus 6”. Around me people are sending SMS’s to pretty much the same tune. There’s a carcade outside.
Triplete? Yes, Benitez has his own triplete: it’s three weeks since their last win.
written for footballxs.com