It certainly was not a pretty start yesterday against Serie A’s second best club in AC Milan for ‘Memo’ Ochoa and his new club Salernitana. By the 15th minute, they found themselves down two goals at home. And that was including an incredible 1-on-1 save by the Mexican keeper against Rafael Leao in the 6th minute of action. But the Rossoneri attack wasn’t about to seize there.
He stopped a wide open Olivier Giroud strike from inches outside the six yard box with his leg despite diving to the wrong side. That’s right, his leg. He had another great stop on a 1-on-1 against LB Theo Hernández which was eventually deemed offside, but a great save nonetheless. Those two plays occurred within 40 seconds of themselves and with that, Ochoa kept his side with a glimmer of hope heading into the half 0-2 down.
In the second half, his heroics continued. In what was no doubt the save of the day (possibly of the season), Milan were lined up for a free kick around 10-15 yards outside the box. Sandro Tonali delivered a lobbed pass to a wide open Giroud who volleyed a left-footed missile from just outside the six yard box... again. Ochoa blocked the attempt, only to see the ball reach a lurking Charles De Ketelaere, who also fired away, only to see Ochoa up to the task... again.
Take a look at Ochoa’s key interventions from yesterday’s match.
El debut de "Memo" Ochoa en la Serie A con la Salernitana.— La Pizarra del DT (LPDT) (@LaPizarraDelDT_) January 5, 2023
Reacciones ágiles con sus pies, respuestas ante segundas jugadas tras bloquear el primer remate, ganó los 'mano a mano', hizo varios despejes...
Seguro estará bajo esos contextos en otros partidos y deberá parar mucho. https://t.co/zpbF7G8aaj
Immediately ensuing Ochoa’s spectacular double save play, his club drove the ball down the right side of the pitch, only to cross in the ball to an open Bonazzoli who put the home side on the board. The final score ended in a 2-1 Milan victory, but that’s what having a good keeper will do for you; give you a chance.
Despite his struggles through the air (which are the reason he’s never played at an elite European club), one can’t deny Ochoa’s elite skills and reflexes on the ground. He’s proven it time and time again, not just in his club play, but with the Mexican National Team as well. He’s come up huge in multiple World Cups, proving it’s no fluke he continues to be seeked out by European clubs.
A great addition for a desperate Salernitana club looking for extra insurance on the defensive end of the ball. With that being said, three consecutive losses and just 8 points clear of relegation aren’t exactly an ideal situation for Ochoa to land in. But if his superb level displayed yesterday continues and a couple of defenders decide to show up now and again, I don’t see why Davide Nicola’s club can’t steer clear of the fires of relegation with their current cushion. That being said, every match will be a final for them from here until the end of the season if they wish to remain in Serie A.