Note: Sorry for the delay on the Milan-Juve match report, but I had pressing commitments Saturday afternoon.
Milan-Juve ends 0-0. All in all it’s a result that makes sense, given what the level of play the two teams displayed during the 90 minutes. At the end of the day, a point is probably a better result for Juve than AC Milan, for two reasons: firstly, for the Bianconeri this is an away draw at San Siro (never an easy feat whatever the form of the host team may be) which temporarily puts them 2 points behind leaders Inter (albeit with 2 extra games played). Secondly, this result will only feed the doubts of the Rossoneri, in believing they are under a curse of not being able to win at home this season. A look at the history books marks this as a negative record for AC Milan: counting the winless matches of last season, this brings the streak to 9 consecutive games without a win for Carlo Ancelotti’s boys (earlier record being 8 matches, dating from the prehistoric times of 1934-35).
Tactically, this game had in store some early surprises compared to what the pre-match studies had anticipated. Carlo Ancelotti decided to field his usual “Xmas tree” formation, but gave Kaká the task of getting up almost in line with Alberto Gilardino (with the playmaking tasks as nº10 being left to Clarence Seedorf). In addition, Serginho was given a starting role over Paolo Maldini, a sign perhaps that the Milan coach wanted his wing offensives to be more pungent. On the other end, with Camoranesi out injured, Claudio Ranieri surprised everyone not only by not starting Alessandro Del Piero from minute 1, but by preferring Hasan Salihamidzic as right midfielder over Marco Marchionni or Raffaele Palladino. A choice justified by the Bosnian’s better defensive abilities over his two counterparts.
The match started with an incredibly active Juventus side, who pushed up on the Rossoneri defense right from the get-go. Both Iaquinta and Trezeguet were supported by the Bianconeri mid-line, and forced the AC Milan players to commit some mistakes which could have been very costly, the most notable of which the ball lost by Andrea Pirlo in minute 12, which set up Cristiano Zanetti for a nice aerial ball to Trezeguet on the right, but the Frenchman’s strike hit the base of the post.
After the initial Juve attacking storm the match settled down a bit, which allowed the AC Milan players to take a breather and try to organize some plays of their own. However, partly because of an attentive Juve defense, partly due to the non-ideal conditions of the Giuseppe Meazza stadium, the best the Rossoneri could garner in the 1st half were an unconvincing attempt by Seedorf (wide) and a mid-range effort by Pirlo (well saved by Gigi Buffon). 0-0 at the break.
In the 2nd half, the match set off on the same pace as it all begun in the 1st, except this time it was the Rossoneri leading the way. Their ball possession however turned into dangerous counter-attack for Juve as soon as a Milan player lost the ball. Such as is in the 48th when Salihamidzic skipped past the challenge of Serginho, moved back to the center with loads of space, and armed a left-footed instep shot that only a miracle save by Dida kept out of the net.
Onto the other end, Milan immediately replied: cross by Massimo Oddo from the right wing onto a mix of players, rebound lands to Kaká. The Brazilian flicks it up with one touch, then attempts an instantaneous bicycle kick from close-range. Buffon is there, but on the rebound Gilardino taps into the net. Tough luck for Milan, Gila was offside.
With the game now picking up more and more pace, chances are flowing for either side. Gilardino screams for penalty for a supposed shirt tug by Nicola Legrottaglie inside the box, while on the other end a deep run down the left by Cristian Molinaro almost turned into an assist for Trezeguet, had the Frenchmen made a tackle towards the second post on his team-mate’s low cross.
Ancelotti then decided to play the Inzaghi card, while Ranieri took his chances with Del Piero. Pippo immediately took his mark on the game by eluding the offside trap (and Chiellini) and slamming Kaladze’s inviting cross right onto Buffon’s arms, while Pinturicchio tried a few dribbles & tricks from his arsenal, and even had a good left-footed shot on net if only he hadn’t been offside. Neither of the two strikers however, could help his team deliver what would have been the game winner, and the full 90 minutes came to an end with a 0-0 scoreline.
|MILAN (4-3-2-1): Dida – Oddo (79’ Bonera), Nesta, Kaladze, Serginho (64’ Maldini) – Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Seedorf, Kaká – Gilardino (64’ Inzaghi). (bench: Kalac, Cafu, Brocchi, Gourcuff). Coach: Ancelotti.|
|JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro – Salihamidzic (71’ Marchionni), Nocerino, C.Zanetti, Nedved (82’ Palladino) – Trezeguet, Iaquinta (71’ Del Piero). (bench: Belardi, Birindelli, Criscito, Tiago). Coach: Ranieri.|