The old lady of Turin has not smiled since getting the better of Inter Milan at the derby d’Italia in February and Saturday’s encounter against the Rossoneri didn’t do them any favour as well. Milan piled up more misery over the Bianconeri with an unconvincing 1-0 away win. With champions league spot looking like a distant dream, pride was at stake for the home team after they had suffered two back to back defeats against two unlikely opponents prior to last night’s match. Pride was lost by Juve and Milan are now eight points clear at the top after this well fought encounter. Let’s have a look at some of the crucial points of the match.
What was Del Neri thinking?
Del Neri had put the blame solely on his players for the loss against Lecce and received bulk of the criticism for the team’s performance against Bologna. In the clash that was being tipped as the make or break match for Del Neri his tactical decisions did nothing but shocked the Bianconeri faithful to the core. His decision to bench the legendary striker Del Piero is something which many fans have still not come to terms with. His absence was felt more especially with the attacking game or the lack of it being put on display by Luca Toni and later by Iaquinta.
Leaving Alex out on the bench also meant that there was not even a single dead ball specialist available for Juventus in the starting eleven, a decision which he must be ruing as the hosts won a string of free kicks in the initial few minutes all of which didn’t go beyond the four men Milanese wall.
Later on, Del Piero did make it to the pitch but it was eighty minutes too late and at a time when Milan was in cruise control thanks to the goal by their skipper Gattuso.
While going forward Juventus were at their weakest, enjoying only 39% of ball possession in front of their home crowd. Not just that, they failed to muster up even a single shot on target.
The club has gone on record to say that they still stand by their coach Del Neri but after seeing the performance of the Italian giants under him of late one wonders till when they can maintain this stand of theirs.
Also, the fact that Del Neri decided to keep on a visibly uncomfortable Melo and not take him off after his collision with Boateng was hard to digest. He was seen limping across the field and gave away the possession several times during the course of the match.
An injured mid fielder resulted in Juventus’s four man mid field going hay wire. A less than 100% Melo also meant that Martinez and Marchisio were left to do a little too much at the center of the pitch. Krasic, who showed a lot of spark at the start of the match just fizzled out due to the lack of support as the game progressed.
Milan: Not exceptional but good enough
Milan were not at their fluent best last night but were good enough on the day for a troubled Juventus. With Pato down with fever and Robiniho on bench it was up to Ibrahimovic and Cassano to take the game to the opponents. If it was not for an excellent interception made by Barzagli, the tall Swede would have put the visitors in front with his very first touch. He would then have to wait for a long time to make a serious impact in the game and that would come in the form of an assist in the 68th minute when he chested down a cross, which was put past Gigi Buffon by Gattuso to score the only goal of the encounter. Other than that, both Ibra and Cassano had an ordinary outing with both missing out on some sitters in the first half.
What stood out for Allegri’s men is that, in spite of their forwards having an off day the rest of the lot stood up to the occasion and helped them in walking out with crucial three points. Flamini and Jankulovski formed a formidable partnership on the left flank and constantly troubled the young Sorensen while providing excellent crosses to the forwards. There is a reason why the pair of Nesta and Silva are considered the best CB in Serie A and they showcased it once again at Turin when they kept Juve forwards Toni and Matri in the back of their pockets.
Gattuso seals it for Milan
Gattuso is an emotional man and when he steps on the field wearing Milan’s jersey (add to that the captain’s) the emotions are bound to flow. More often than not it has gotten the better of him, latest being the infamous incident with Joe Jordon. But it can’t be denied that after that incident he has emerged as a different player all together. He rightly apologised for his behaviour and on the pitch in all the Serie A games played after that and led the Rossoneri from the front. On Saturday, his goal came at a time just when the home side was looking to put some pressure on the visitors so his goal not only gave Milan the lead but also made sure that his team keeps on the pressure for the remaining twenty five minutes.
He might be suspended for the mid week champions league tie but his strike has made sure that Milan would be going into the match at the White Hart Lane with their tails up after securing wins against Napoli and Juventus.
Del Neri must be thanking his stars that this article is only a post mortem report of his club’s match against Milan and not on his stay at Turin because the fans are surely asking for his head after three defeats on the trot . He needs to get this together really fast, because if the things don’t improve at Turin soon we might have to come up with a Post mortem report on his time with Juventus.