Archive for August 17th, 2008

AC Milan 4-1 Juventus: Rossoneri Win Trofeo Berlusconi 2008

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Sunday was a sad day for Italian soccer, as one of the most charismatic club presidents of Serie A passed away. In things of this nature there is no club distinction: we are all bound by the same love for the beautiful game, and when one of us leaves the family it’s always a sad moment. He might have had a big mouth sometimes, but he was loved by many especially in the capital, as he was the symbol of AS Roma’s return to top European football and the man steering the boat to Scudetto nº3. R.I.P. Franco Sensi, and my sincerest and heartfelt condolences to his family.

This almost makes the evening match between AC Milan and Juventus seem insignificant, but let’s just go over briefly about what happened in the annual pre-season’s Trofeo Luigi Berlusconi.

(From Gazzetta): MILAN, 17 August 2008 – After spending most of the summer accumulating embarassing losses through Europe, Milan wanted to play a good match in front of their home crowd Sunday night. Mission accomplished I guess, as Juventus was defeated 4-1 in the Luigi Berlusconi Trophy, the traditional August tournament played at San Siro between Rossoneri and Bianconeri. Juve wanted to confirm their good run of form, which they did (for a while at least) as they pushed the Rossoneri against the ropes for a good part of the first half. The 90th-minute 3-goal deficit however pales in comparison to the worse news of the evening: Giorgio Chiellini’s injury (apparently a twisted/sprained knee), which will put the Juve center-back out of commission for a minimum of 40 days.

LINE-UPS – Pippo Inzaghi was expected back in the forward line for Milan, but it was actually Alberto Paloschi getting the start instead. Christian Abbiati was in goal for the Rossoneri, an essential “tested” element behind a “not-so-tested” center-back duo formed by Bonera-Favalli (who all in all, didn’t do too badly). Marek Jankulovski and Gianluca Zambrotta completing the defensive line. In midfield, Gattuso, Pirlo, Flamini and Ambrosini occupied 4-man line, while playmaking power was left into the expert feet of Clarence Seedorf (who our friends over at the Juve Offside call the “Black Pavel Nedved” -and considering the never-ending runs Seedorf makes, that’s quite an apt comparison).

On the other end, Claudio Ranieri had to deal with (minor) injuries to Iaquinta, Camoranesi, and Trezeguet, thus forcing the Juve manager to load up on a lot of Primaveras. At the back, goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti (later relayed by Alex Manninger) allowed Buffon to take one turn of rest, while the defensive line was composed of Grygera-Chiellini-Mellberg-Molinaro. In midfield, Poulsen, Sissoko, and Nedved occupied the bottom part of a diamond formation, while Ranieri gave Tiago his umpteenth chance, putting him as offensive mid behind forwards Amauri and Del Piero.

JUVE DOMINATION – The first few minutes of the match were all Juve: quick passes, floating balls, a perfect emulation of the playing style exhibited against Artmedia Bratislava. Alessandro Del Piero’s backheel for Grygera (unable to finish the play) was just the tip of the iceberg for AC Milan, because the Rossoneri were virtually inexistent in attack and missing a boatload of easy passes (thus rendering useless the choice of operating on counters). In minute 18, a splendid assist from Del Piero to Amauri was transformed into goal by the Brazilian, but the linesman (erroneously) flagged for offside. Was it a sign of things to come for Juve? Not exactly.

TURNING POINT- All Milan needed to turn the match around was a bit of “push”, and Chimenti gave them just that. It all happened in the 21st minute, when Jankulovski (after one of his trademark forward runs), tried a left-footed blast from 20 metres. It looked central… and it was, but the Juventus goalkeeper seemed to ignore the ball (or failed to deflect it, it’s really hard to tell) and the ball went in. The result: a goal, an almost surprising 1-0 that would become 2-0 just four minutes later. Milan’s second goal was primarily the work of Clarence Seedorf who, receiving a bad pass from Pirlo, had to run all the way towards the left sideline to recover it. A couple of dribbles later however, the ball was on its way over the Juventus defence and toward Massimo Ambrosini‘s noggin. 2-0 Milan, highlighted also by an Ambro-goalpost collision.

GIORGIO’S KNEE GOES CRACK – Bad news for Juve; not only they were losing but the real disaster was yet to come. Ten minutes from the break, Chiellini made a bad move with his left leg as he attempted to challenge Gattuso for the ball. Crack, sprained knee, and player down. It rapidly became clear that this was a serious injury, especially when the Italian defender left the pitch in tears and in a stretcher. Nicola Legrottaglie came on to replace him, and almost immediately turned into a super-sub with a great chance to score on a header.

SUPER PIPPO CLOCKS IN – With Chiellini’s injury marking the night, Filippo Inzaghi‘s season debut (early in the second half) was left a bit in the background. However, the Milan striker decided he was going make his presence felt quickly. His goal was a carbon copy of Ambrosini’s, with Seedorf running the ball on the left and waiting for the right time to deliver it to Super Pippo, who then only needed a touch to catch Manninger (who had replaced Chimenti in the second half) by surprise. 3-0 Milan.

YOUNGN’S TIME – As Milan increased their lead to three, “big-names-Juve” became “young-talent-Juve”. Perhaps Chiellini’s accident instilled some fear into him, but Claudio Ranieri decided to take Del Piero, Tiago (once again disappointing), Nedved and Sissoko off the pitch to replace them with S.Esposito, F.Rossi, Ekdal and Pasquato. The latter easily overtook Bonera in minute 70, and blasted a shot that Dida (on for Abbiati) did not expect: 3-1, and Juve were back in the game.

Indeed, this baby-Vecchia Signora (perfect oxymoron) was incredibly energetic and within minutes, managed to obtain another two great chances (a missed penalty call for a foul on Ekdal, and a point-blank double blast by Amauri and Pasquato) that only bad luck did not see finalized. Energetic and perhaps too much, because Milan only needed a breakaway to tip the scales. Receiving the ball in the Juve box, Inzaghi patiently waited for Ambrosini‘s run and slipped him the ball, allowing the Rossoneri captain (Maldini was absent) to hit the top of the net with a left kick. 4-1 Milan and two goals for Ambro, veritable manna in this time of striker draught.

As the ref called full time, this was the right epilogue for the Rossoneri: a match which symbolized their recovery from a lethargic summer. Juve on the other hand (as well as Marcello Lippi, who called Legrottaglie in replacement), are now worried about Chiellini.


[Match Highlights]
 Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 21’ Jankulovski (M), 25’, 89’ Ambrosini (M), 52’ Inzaghi (M), 70’ Pasquato (J).
MILAN(4-4-1-1): Abbiati (46’ Dida) – Zambrotta (65’ Oddo), Bonera (86’ Darmian), Favalli, Jankulovski (82’ Antonini) – Gattuso (70’ Brocchi), Flamini, Pirlo, Ambrosini (84’ Cardacio) – Seedorf (76’ Viudez) – Paloschi (46’ Inzaghi). Coach: Ancelotti.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Chimenti (46’ Manninger) – Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini (36′ Legrottaglie), Molinaro – Sissoko (62’ S.Esposito), Poulsen, Tiago (62’ Pasquato), Nedved (46’ Ekdal) – Del Piero (62’ F.Rossi), Amauri. Coach: Ranieri.