by: T.M.B. (@TheMilanBible)
The dreaded international break was looming upon us, and millions of fans from different clubs were praying that their players would return 100% fit and be ready for when the more vital football resumed; Milan supporters were no exception.
Fourteen AC Milan players were originally called up, and due to different circumstances, a total of 15 suited up for their respective national teams. So, how did our very own Rossoneri fare during this international break?
Riccardo Montolivo, Giacomo Bonaventura and Luca Antonelli were the three Rossoneri called up by Antonio Conte to represent Italy in the friendlies against Euro 2012 winners Spain, and the current World Cup holders Germany. Mattia De Sciglio ended up also being called due to an injury suffered by on-loan Bologna winger Emanuele Giaccherini during the Spain game.
Montolivo did not feature in the Azzurri’s first friendly against Spain as Italy ended up drawing 1-1. The Milan captain did however start against Germany in the second friendly at the Allianz Arena; this was also Montolivo’s 50th start for the Azzurri, via Opta. Unfortunately, he did not have a good showing, nor did the Azzurri as they were picked apart 4-1 in Bavaria. Montolivo started the game with Thiago Motta. Both not known for their pace were completely outclassed by Germany’s dominant midfield of Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos. Montolivo managed to complete 58 passes while Motta managed 63 passes (121 combined). Toni Kroos alone connected on 114 passes.
Montolivo and Motta were criticized for how slow moving they were and generally second best on Tuesday. It is safe to say Montolivo did not have a pleasant spell with the Azzurri this time around, and his spot on the roster for Euro 2016 remains in limbo.
Antonelli featured in both of Italy’s friendly games, but both were off the bench. Antonelli was granted 11 minutes against Spain and thirteen against Germany. Luca must be disappointed he did not get to start any of the games as Conte fielded the 3-4-3 in both fixtures. The ex-Genoa fullback fits a back four scheme much better than a back three, but considering how good Antonelli has been for Milan this season in an attacking sense, he must be disappointed he was only allowed two appearances off the bench. As expected, to only play less than 25 minutes in two games, Antonelli didn’t make much of an impact for the Azzurri.
Bonaventura did not feature in any of Italy’s friendly games. He was cemented on the bench throughout the first game against Spain. Bonaventura ended up suffering from a fever, thus forcing him to leave Italy’s training camp earlier than he hoped. The Milan winger must have been gutted he had to leave, especially considering he was likely to get his shot against Germany, but in the end did not make any appearances for the Nazionale.
De Sciglio was initially left off the squad by Antonio Conte, but an injury to Giaccherini saw the Italian fullback get lucky as the former Juventus boss elected to summon the 23-year-old fullback. De Sciglio was an unused substitute against Germany.
Italy under-21 head coach Luigi Di Biagio called up Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria for Italy’s two Euro qualifiers against Ireland and Andorra.
Donnarumma started in both of Italy’s Euro qualifiers. Gigio made history as he was the youngest ever to cap for the Azzurrini at 17 years old and 28 days. Donnarumma was very unlucky to concede an early goal as Italy’s own Mandragora put the ball back in his own net. The tall Italian youngster however made he sure he would leave his mark.
He made two stunning saves, and was highly praised by the media – and social media – for his performance in between the posts. Italy ended up cruising to a 4-1 result over Ireland. Donnarumma also started in Italy’s second game against Andorra where he had a quite game as Italy limped through with a 1-0 victory. The teenage sensation did not have much to do and kept his clean sheet. He had a very good spell with the Under 21 Italy squad as the Azzurrini won both of their games and it’s certain that he has become the primary option in goal for Di Biagio moving forward.
Romagnoli also started in both of the Euro qualifiers. The 21-year old former Sampdoria centre-half, who many believe should have been called over Rugani to replace Barzagli, bagged his first goal for the Azzurrini as he came through with a beautiful finish and extended Italy’s lead to 3-1 against Ireland. Romagnoli had a solid match against Andorra as he helped Italy keep hold of the clean sheet in their 1-nil victory. Calabria was not used by head coach Di Biagio in any of Italy’s Euro qualifiers.
Italy (U-21) are currently on top of their group with 19 points.
Italy under-19 head coach Paolo Vanoli called up three of Milan’s premier youth talents in Manuel Locatelli, Gian Filippo Felicioli and Luca Vido for Italy’s three Euro qualifiers against Israel, Switzerland and Turkey.
Locatelli started in all three of Italy’s Euro qualifers. Locatelli, who recently earned the call-up to Milan’s senior side, played the full match as Italy thrashed Israel 4-0. He also played the entire ninety minutes in Italy’s 2-0 victory over Switzerland. The Lecco-born midfielder played 72 minutes in Italy’s 2-2 draw against Turkey.
Felicioli featured in each of Italy’s three Euro qualifiers. The 18-year old Milan Primavera youngster played the full 90 minutes and scored in the side’s 4-0 victory over Israel. Felicioli only managed 5 minutes off the bench in Italy’s 2-0 victory over Switzerland but was back in the starting eleven for Italy’s 2-2 draw against Turkey where he played 45 minutes. Surely, he is one for Milan supporters to keep a close eye on as he continues making his plea for a call-up to the first team.
Striker Luca Vido only featured in one of the Euro qualifiers, and it was off the bench in a limited role. Vido played 16 minutes in Italy’s 4-0 victory over Israel and was an unused sub in both the 2-0 victory over the Swiss and the 2-2 draw against Turkey.
Italy U-19 are currently on top of their group with 7 points tied with Turkey, but edge them on goal difference.
Colombia head coach José Pékerman called up Milan’s Carlos Bacca and Cristian Zapata – to no shock – for Colombia’s World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Ecuador.
Bacca started in both of Colombia’s World Cup qualifiers. The ex-Sevilla hitman played 68 minutes in Los Cafeteros’ 3-2 victory over Bolivia where he was on target scoring once, while also providing an assist for the side’s first goal that James Rodriguez slotted home.
Bacca played 78 minutes in Colombia’s 3-1 victory over Ecuador and was once again on his game, scoring twice. Milan’s leading attacking threat has scored 4 goals in his last three games for club and country with seven shots on target, via Opta. It’s fair to say Bacca had an excellent international break, and was easily one of the better performers during this stretch.
Zapata only featured in one of Colombia’s World Cup qualifying matches as he was suspended for the game against Bolivia. The 29-year old defender did however start against Ecuador where he featured for the entirety of the match, turning in a strong performance in the back. The goal Colombia conceded was from a free kick which Zapata could’ve done little to prevent.
‘The Tank’ – Juraj Kucka – was originally called up by head coach Ján Kozák despite being injured which left a fair amount of Milanisti scratching their heads, but the tenacious midfielder eventually returned to Milanello to continue with his recovery program. He did not feature in either of Slovakia’s friendly draws with Latvia and Ireland.
BRAZIL (Under-23 Olympic team)
Head coach Rogério Micale, ahead of Brazil’s games against Nigeria and South Africa, called up the recently-recovered central defender Rodrigo Ely.
Ely was an unused sub during Brazil’s 1-0 defeat to Nigeria, but the former Avellino man came off the bench and played 45 minutes in the side’s commanding 3-1 victory over South Africa.
Head coach Vahid Halilhodžić ahead of Japan’s World Cup qualifiers against Afghanistan and Syria called up resurgent Milan winger Keisuke Honda.
The former CSKA Moscow playmaker was unused in Japan’s 5-0 trouncing over Afghanistan. Honda did manage to start against Syria and made sure to leave international duty on a good note, grabbing a goal and assist in Japan’s 5-0 victory over Syria.
Here were the total minutes played by each individual member of the Rossoneri during the international break:
Rodrigo Ely 45’
Luca Vido 16’
Overall, the Milan players had a positive international break with nine wins, two draws and one loss respectively. Milan manager Siniša Mihajlović breathed a huge sigh of relief as he was returned each of his players unscathed; the exception being Bonaventura who suffered from the fever but is expected to be ready for Milan’s first game back from the break, which is against Atalanta away on Sunday.
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