After a rough night, Madrid left Milan feeling the recipient of one of those Italian street graffiti that so well summarizes the country: You are as beautiful as a goal in the 90’s (You are beautiful as a goal in 90). In the great esplanade that surrounds San Siro, before Rodrygo struck down the locals with his last breath, the streets smelled like a burger from street vendors much more than pizza and, in the midst of the general intake, an old and ephemeral local player like Roberto Carlos (at Inter in 95-96) he had to enter the stadium at a brisk pace, fleeing from a crowd that demanded photos of him. Thus the Champions returned to the streets of the city after a time laminated on television. Without many masks, yes, among the 37,000 present.
And with Rodrygo once again leaving his mark on the Champions League. So rare in his appearances and so effective in Europe: six tournament goals in just eight shots on goal in 17 games. “I think that all the times I have played in the Champions League I played well, I have done something good for the team,” he still congratulated himself on the pitch. “We knew we were going to suffer, we knew how to do it, fight to the end and that the goal would come,” added the Brazilian, almost always in the shadow of the explosive Vinicius, but punctual like few others. Last year he already scored the winning goal for Inter in Valdebebas (3-2) at a time of great trouble for the Whites. And in San Siro (0-2), only a rebound in Achraf removed another target from the accounting. “I have said it several times, the number of minutes is not so important,” commented his boss Ancelotti, who has not yet granted him any title.
The goal optimized the white stretch in the second half after a start with too much trouble. From the outset, Carlo Ancelotti prioritized his own goal and decided to move from words to deeds. After insisting in a pounding way on the cracks in the defensive system – a question “of sacrifice and not of quality,” he had warned – he operated without addressing the most delicate issues of status: Hazard outside and inside Lucas Vázquez. At San Siro, in the Champions League debut, the Belgian on the bench, and the entire second half warming up. A whole message.
The maneuver, however, did not improve Courtois’ life, forced to multiply, especially until game time. In the first half, Madrid suffered 14 shots, the second highest figure in the Champions League since the 2005-06 season, only surpassed by 15 against Juventus in 2013, according to Opta statistics. “Courtois saved us in the first half. He made two or three high-level stops, ”admitted Ancelotti.
The Belgian, always sincere, commented that “it was not the best game” for his team. “It was not the game we wanted. Defensively, we weren’t feeling well under pressure. They always had someone free in the middle. They complicated us in the first part. The second was somewhat better and created less danger. Then it is to have the faith that this team has a goal ”, he analyzed. Before that much in extremisHe must have deployed his oars and demanded himself down, as in a header from Dzeko. “I am two meters tall and it is not easy to get there. It is good that they see that it is not easy to score a goal, “he said.
Despite Courtois’ extra work, the white coach did not fault his team. “Defensively, we have not done badly. We were focused on the crashes. Inter has also paid in the second half for the effort of the first, ”said the Italian, who left San Siro enchanting despite several hot flashes. “I really liked the game, it was a day when we had to suffer. This team does not only have quality, it has commitment. A clean sheet gives us more confidence, “he said.
From the outset, his priority was for the entire defensive framework to take the required step forward, and there the weakest link was Hazard, who in just five duels of the season was first surpassed by Vinicius (at Villamarín) and this Wednesday by Lucas Vazquez. In the first big-ticket appointment, the most interventionist Ancelotti appeared and left the Belgian at a standstill, who does not abandon his eternal resetting process. Just the opposite strategy to that applied by Zidane, that the more important the appointment was, the more clue it gave to the former blue as long as it was on the healthy list.
It was not like that in the European debut, where the Italian coach lined up with Lucas Vázquez, actually doubling the right wing with two full-backs. The coach made it very clear before the duel: “I put in a player who has a lot of energy, who is tactically very good, who can do the two phases of the game well, defensive and offensive.” A nod to Lucas Vázquez and a touch to Hazard, who left Milan without a minute. “I thought about taking him out in the second half, but Inter closes well on the inside and I preferred to put Rodrygo on the wing.” The play was perfect.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.