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The Irony Of Penalties
15.12 || scharatz

Life can be really ironic at times. Ask Milan fans what they think about penalty shoot outs and you would probably just receive a groan or two. A week earlier, the same question would have evoked great memories of a wonderful night in May, but a day after the Intercontinental Cup final, 'penalty shoot-out' is something that the milanisti want to erease from their vocabulary, at least for the time being, so do not even bother as the irony would be lost on them.

Was it just the penalty shoot-out that led to Milan's downfall in the Intercontinental Cup Final or were there other motives? Well surely whenever you lose from the penalty lottery, luck plays an important part. However, as they say, luck always helps the strongest and it would be unfair on Boca to say they only won through luck. The Argentinean team was very solid throughout the match, and even though they relied on counter attacks, they still were able to worry the Milan defence and at the same time not allow too much space to the rossoneri forwards

Milan were clearly the most technical team of the two finalists as Boca are more of a team than individual flair, however Ancelotti's team was unable to make use of their superior technical abilities on the pitch. It is tough to really find where the merits of Boca end and the demerits of Milan start, but what's for sure is that ultimately, the most deserving team won.

In recent weeks, Shevcenko and Kaka have been systematically leading Milan to wins both in Serie A and Champions League, however on Sunday, neither of them played a good game and were hardly involved in Milan's attacks. The Brazilian forward's star shined only a few times and that was not enough for the rossoneri. Shevcenko is currently very important for his team as Inzaghi is still far away from his best form following the injury and if the Ukrainian forward does not bang them in, then the rossoneri find it hard to score goals.

Many will easily point fingers towards Ancelotti who opted for Kaka instead of Rui Costa. The Portuguese midfielder seemed to be more adapt for this kind of match as soon as he set foot on the pitch and things might have been different if he had played from the start since his team seemed to lack creativity in midfield to create real goal scoring chances which did not involve long passes by Pirlo from the midfield line.

Boca were overall more ordinate, especially in defence, where every time a Milan player was in possession of the ball, at least two Boca players would be surrounding him and preventing him from creating any important chance. Their fast counter attacks became even more effective when Tevez was sent on the pitch by Bianchi and Boca were very close to snatching the victory late towards the game.

Back to the first point: the penalties. Ancelotti stated that he chose the players himself, based on his technical knowledge of the players. If that's the case, then his technical knowledge is really bad. This is obviously not so, as Ancelotti is a good tactician, however the choice of penalty takers was clearly not a happy one.

After Beckham's terrible miss kick from the spot in the match Turkey England, no one would have thought that any player was capable of shooting a worse penalty. No one except Costacurta. The veteran defender, who granted that he is not a specialist in penalties, probably shot the worst penalty of the past 10 years. Not that Seedorf's penalty was much better, but at least his shot did not trot agonizingly towards goal.

Losing the final was not a great sensation, and this might be the reason behind Seedorf's angry after match words. He accused some players that they did not want to take the penalties, while he took the responsibility. Apparently his words were aimed towards Inzaghi and Cafu. Obviously both the player and club will try to play down these claims, but such a reaction can only be harmful for the dressing room.

Italian media will be quick to say that Milan are in a crisis because of the back to back defeats in the Champions League (at home against Celta) and this Intercontinental defeat. This is obviously ridiculous as Milan have had so far an excellent season but we all know that Italians try to sensationalize even the small stories.

On the other hand it is true that this is the second final they lost this season (first one was the Italian Super Cup against Juventus) and both came from the penalty shoot outs. After last May, Milan and their fans probably thought that luck was on their side when it came to penalties, however this season proved otherwise and will be hoping to avoid the lottery from the spot in future fixtures!

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