I’d love to know why The Powers That Be at GolTV decided it was a good idea to have Ray Hudson and Lindsay Dean sit in a studio and record new commentary for Serie A games (games, mind you, that come complete with more than adequate English-language commentary, courtesy of whatever UK satellite company carries the league). Because, honestly, they almost ruin the game. I’m furious with myself for not realizing until after the fact that I could have watched the derby on RAI International, thus saving myself from Hudson’s endless, forced, patently WRONG (he still hasn’t acknowledged that it was Kaka that scored the final goal, not Gilardino) efforts to be clever, and Dean’s sad attempts to stand out in his own right. (Also, Ray? Cafu spends all of every game running up and down the right flank. If it’s heroic, it’s heroic every week. There was nothing remotely unusual about what he was doing on Saturday. Shut. Up.) The game itself was magical — if a bit depressing for the Milan fans among us — and everything you’d want from a derby match. Insane amounts of passion, moments of genius, and (though I may be making this part up) a look in the eyes of the players that made it clear this game was much more important than three simple points.
I mean, how else to explain that Ibra suddenly remembered how to play football? He was a totally different player than last week against Udine — no more of that crashing blindly into defenders and giving the ball away. Instead, he was dropping deep to defending, winning the ball and playing it wide to the flanks. Who is this guy? And when is he going to go away, dammit? And Stankovich was scary good, yet again — not only did he drive the Inter attack (his goal was, as the kids say, SICK), but he also marked Pirlo almost completely out of the game. I don’t know what it is — maybe he’s suddenly found himself, or Mancini is using him the right way, or it’s something he’s eating — but I can’t imagine Inter playing without him in the side right now. Zanetti, as was suggested last week when he moved to the midfield late-on to make way for Maicon, is a quiet wonder. The man can make an impact anywhere on the field, and he does it without a lot of noise and attention-getting display. (Are you watching, Materazzi, you asshole?)
And what of Milan? Sigh. It looked like Inter went out determined to pressure in the midfield and not give Milan any space and, until Materazzi was sent off, it worked. Seedorf (who, I swear to god, can do anything when he puts his mind to it), Pirlo and Kaka were stymied, which almost never happens. Don’t get me wrong — I appreciated the urgency in the second half (which is something you don’t see from Milan very often — like the Serie A version of Juventus, they often are content to keep the ball in a lovely manner, and just wait for a goal — even when they can’t score), but had Materazzi not been sent off, Inter would have had a comfortable victory. Really, apart from the bright spot of Maldini pushing forward on the left and, well, doing everything right as usual, things were fairly grim. I fervently hope I’m wrong, but even had they not been docked the points, I have to say we really can’t expect to see Milan around at the end of the season.