F resh from a consummate performance which saw them dismantle the reigning European Champions, Juventus travelled to Milan looking to pile further misery on the floundering Rossoneri and perhaps usher another Coach off the bench to be replaced by a Spaniard. There would however be no sacking at San Siro as Antonio Conte’s men were beaten 1-0. Here’s John and Adam with the match report.
MATCH ANALYSIS (by Adam Digby)
Silvio Berlusconi twice visited Milan’s training centre recently and to give the players a ‘Pep talk’ (see what I did there?) and it appeared to work, Milan being far more inspired than in many of their fixtures this season while Angelo Alessio clearly failed to clarify what he meant when he relayed Conte’s ‘park the bus’ message and the Juventus XI remained seated in the car park for the entire ninety minutes.
Make no mistake, this was as poor a Juve performance as we have seen under the former Captain who will undoubtedly be giving his players the kind of beating Chris Brown would be proud of upon their return to training this week. Milan may have won through a terrible penalty decision – with Gigi Buffon almost stopping Robinho’s spot-kick – but a loss is undoubtedly the result such a display deserved.
We haven’t scored for two Serie A games in a row because our opponents put us under pressure with their systems and we have been unable to break down their defences.
– Beppe Marotta
Up until the goal, the game was fairly even, Marco Amelia in the Milan goal making a couple of key stops and playing above his usual level while Juve conceded few chances to trouble their own goal. As they chased the result, Fabio Quagliarella was seen exchanging words behind his jacket with Alessio, hopefully making him the first to offer his apologies for what they had forced the Assistant Coach to watch over the course of the game.
“We saw nothing of the real Juventus this evening” declared Leo Bonucci shortly after full time and it is hard to argue with that assessment. The fact they maintained 62% of possession merely seems to prove that, without context, statistics are utterly meaningless and the fact they managed just two weak efforts on target against a defence made up of Amelia, Mattia De Sciglio, Mario Yepes, Philippe Mexes and Kevin Constant is a far more telling figure.
As was stated in the preview, on paper the Bianconeri team – not to mention squad – is decidedly superior to that of Milan but those names must perform in order for that to ultimately mean anything and they clearly failed to deliver, nullifying that or any other advantage. Again, looking at the bare statistics, an 83% pass completion rate appears average but the play just lacked direction and the usual crispness that we expect was entirely absent.
There can and must be no excuses. I was tempted to say it was “time to hold our hands up and admit Juventus deserved to lose” but I’ll just stand here waving a rib instead. Same thing anyway right? Of course Juventini everywhere will be bitter at the manner of this defeat but, instead of becoming as crass and classless as fans of other clubs, remember ‘lo stile’ and instead look inward, reflecting on a performance from our own players that was so completely inept it was actually on a par with the officiating.
LE PAGELLE (by John Cascarano)
Buffon 6.0 - Did not have a lot of work to do other than the dubious penalty taken by Robinho. Although it’s unfair to ever criticize a keeper on a penalty, he guessed right, got hands on it, but somehow still let it slip past him.
Caceres 6.0 - Deputized fine for Chiellini. His versatility at defense, both in the center or out wide, is paying dividends.
Bonucci 6.0 - Like the rest of the Juve defense, kept things pretty much under control in the face of Milan’s attack. Suffice it to say, defense was not the issue today.
Barzagli 6.5 - A slightly above average display made for what was probably a man of the match on what was a holistically mediocre day. El Sharraway did not trouble him too much at all.
Asamoah 6.0 – Another workmanlike performance on the left side, again impressed with his dribbling ability. Crosses in the final third left something to be desired.
72′ Pogba 5.5 - Played well enough after coming on for Asamoah, and slotting into the center. Asserted himself in the midfield late, taking advantage of tired legs around him. Nice to see him continuing to gain minutes in big matches.
Vidal 6.0 - Battled admirably enough with Nocerino, but simply cannot be expected to do it all each game.
Pirlo 5.5 - A rather muted performance against his former team. Looked good when he was allowed space in front of the defense, which did not seem to be often enough.
Marchisio 5.0 - A very quiet night for il Principino. Perhaps a 5 is harsh, as oftentimes his biggest contributions are off the ball and easily missed by a TV spectator, but I was left relatively unimpressed.
Isla 4.5 - Two steps forward, one step backward, for the Chilean who is still struggling to return to form after a severe knee injury. I’m not sure if it was a matter of tactics, but I was left dumbfounded with how little Mauricio pushed forwarded.
45′ Padoin 5.5 - Was far more impressive than Isla after coming on, although that was not difficult to do. Still, was far more aggressive and assertive, and definitely added a bit more on the right. I understand the necessity in resting regulars while competing on three fronts, but after his dominant mid-week performance, where was Lichtsteiner?
Vucinic 6.0 - I wanted to give him a lower score, but Mirko seemed to be doing a lot of the extra work at the front. Still, I would love to see “Big Game Mirko” show up a bit more frequently.
Quagliarella 5.0 - At this point, is it fair to wonder out loud if it is simply feast or famine for Fabio?
57′ Giovinco 6.0 - Much like against Chelsea, provided an added spark off the bench. He can be useful in this role and in these situations.
Conte/Alessio 5.5 - Did not seem to have any answers on what was a frustrating day. Alessio certainly lacks some of that motivational fire that Conte provides (and few could match, in fairness), but perhaps provides even less than Carrera did. Thankfully, the team won’t have to go much longer without the bat coming out during halftime. Tactically, the 3-5-2 did not exploit space the way it had in previous matches. Last season during the first match-up against Milan, the 4-3-3 was a perfect foil, and Juventus dominated. By the second meeting when the 3-5-2 was settled on, it was a completely different game. Juventus struggled to move the ball out of the midfield, passes often went incomplete, and the team began to get frustrated and rely a bit too much on the long ball. Sounds a bit like yesterday, huh?
ANALYSIS WRAP-UP (by Adam Digby)
Defeats for Juventus are, it seems, like buses; you wait ages for one then two come along at once and get a dodgy penalty! While that may indeed be the most mixed of metaphors, it was better than trying to figure out what kind of deformed skeleton they must have at the school Nicola Rizzoli attended if it had ribs as part of its arm!
Anyway, as Monday’s edition of Tuttosport declared, Adriano Galliani will have something new to ‘stick on his mobile’ thanks to an incident which Milanisti everywhere will undoubtedly claim makes up for Sulley Muntari’s ‘ghost goal’ last time these two teams went head to head.
But, as we know, two wrongs don’t make a right and, sadly for all of us of a Bianconeri persuasion, a ridiculously bad penalty decision cannot be allowed to mask a performance from Juve which Beppe Marotta rightly described as “one of their worst games of the season” and pointed out that the team must get used to playing every four days as they seek to balance the challenges of Serie A with their Champions League commitments.
The Director General also went on to say the penalty “cannot be an alibi” but what must also not be allowed is for the game to be held up as reason to continue the tired narrative that the 3-5-2 formation is ultimately flawed or that a genuine 25+ goals a season striker will magically solve all the problems. This was a collective failing, one which the players must accept and one they must strive to ensure is not repeated any time soon, particularly with the small matter of the Turin derby looming on the horizon.
With two more matches until Antonio Conte returns we will undoubtedly see both an increase in intensity and a far greater degree of tactical adjustments during matches such as this one. Until then the players must show the desire and determination of Champions if that is what they want to be crowned in May.
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