BLOG ITALIA
Monday March 3 2014
Striking difference sees Juve prosper

A cool, calculating Juventus had too much finishing quality for a plucky Milan side on Sunday night. Giancarlo Rinaldi hails the Bianconeri’s brilliant forwards and rounds up all the action.

There may have been a better strike partnership in its Serie A debut season but its hard to think of one right now. We used to say that all Antonio Conte’s Juve were missing was a forward who guaranteed a double-figure goal haul. Now, in Carlitos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, they have a pair of them.

It was a goal from each of them which eventually saw off a brave effort from Clarence Seedorf’s revitalised Milan side in San Siro. For much of the first half, the Rossoneri had La Vecchia Signora looking decidedly unsteady on her feet. But Ricky Kaka and company failed to deliver the killer blow which would surely have brought her to her knees.

Instead, the Old Lady hit back with the footballing equivalent of a swing of the handbag to the nether regions and a crack over the head with an umbrella. Just before half-time a sweeping piece of interplay saw Llorente stroke the ball home to give the visitors a lead which really hit Milan where it hurts. Then, in the second period, Tevez delivered the coup de grâce with a thunderbolt strike which left them reeling.

It produced a final scoreline which was harsh on a Milanese side which is clearly showing signs of progress but was also testimony to what a fine-tuned unit Juve have become. Seedorf must know his team cannot afford to dominate possession without turning it into goals. It felt, to paraphrase an old Italian proverb, like getting all the aromas from a lovely roast dinner but none of the actual meat.

Juve, on the other hand, are a full steak dinner - at least in Serie A terms. They now face a three-course lunch with Fiorentina in a mouthwatering triple-header on domestic and Europa League duty. On recent evidence, they will devour the Tuscan side like one of the tasty T-bones traditionally prepared in the Renaissance City.

The Viola’s protest at recent refereeing misfortunes backfired spectacularly at the same time as the Bianconeri were polishing off Milan. Fans on the Curva Fiesole - and many in other parts of the ground - decided to wait 10 minutes before taking their places to watch the home clash with Lazio. In doing so, they created an eerie atmosphere and also missed the only goal of the game with a spectacular Lorik Cana strike giving Edy Reja’s men all three points.

Without their Spanish talisman, Borja Valero, the boys in purple lacked precision and purpose. He will miss another three Serie A games - including the League clash with Juve and another key match with Napoli. They can only hope he will be well enough rested for the Europa League encounters to somehow revive the spirit of the incredible 4-2 victory over the Bianconeri earlier this season. Conte’s men, however, appear to have learned the lessons of that clash.

Elsewhere in Italy, Saturday’s big night game failed to deliver the result either side hoped for. A goalless draw meant Roma failed to turn up the pressure on Juventus at the top of the table while Inter were unable to make another big step in their recovery. But that did not mean there was not plenty to talk about.

The clash in the Stadio Olimpico ended up being mostly about what Mauro Bergonzi and his match officials missed. Daniele De Rossi and Juan Jesus both escaped sanction - during the game at least - for swinging their arms at an opponent. There were also loud shouts for a penalty at either end - most notably when Mauro Icardi was tugged back by Mehdi Benatia. But spot-kicks for the Nerazzurri have become as rare an occurrence as big matches without some loser with a laser pen in attendance.

It proved a tough weekend for the three revelation teams of Serie A as Parma, Torino and Verona managed just one goal between them. Marco Parolo’s early strike for the Emilia-Romagna outfit was enough give them local bragging rights as they saw off Sassuolo at a soggy Mapei Stadium. But Hellas missed their suspended talisman Luca Toni and could do no better than a 0-0 draw with Bologna. And it was even worse for the Granata as Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci were upstaged by Sampdoria and, in particular, a stunning strike by Manolo Gabbiadini which clinched their win after Stefano Okaka had opened the scoring.

The other half of Genoa was also celebrating as Luca Antonelli and Stefano Sturaro scored to see off the ever-more-marooned Catania. There were also significant wins for Cagliari over Udinese and Atalanta against Chievo to give themselves more breathing space over the relegation fight. The Sardinians’ success was particularly emphatic with Victor Ibarbo, Matias Vecino and Agim Ibraimi scoring without reply. It allowed them to move level on points with the Friuli side. Even the Lazarus-like qualities of Francesco Guidolin’s outfit will surely not allow them to resurrect their European football dreams this season.

Finally, there was frustration in Tuscany for Napoli as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Livorno. It might yet prove vital in the survival fight for Mimmo Di Carlo’s men but it was a nuisance for the Partenopei who had a chance to close up on Roma in second spot. Fiorentina’s defeat meant Rafa Benitez’s side actually tightened its grip on third place. But they, like everyone else, look a long way off the ruthless efficiency with which Juve are honing in on three Scudetti in a row.

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Have your say...
On paper there is not much difference, Balotelli vs Tevez and Pazzini vs Llorente
on the 9th March, 2014 at 8:22pm
@mm,I was entertained and for me that is just as important as winning. Granted both are not mutually exclusive. If Milan can maintain that kind of performance, then I'm certain that they will go on to win many games. This season is practically a write-off so I will judge Seedorf after he has gotten a pre-season and full campaign under his belt.
on the 5th March, 2014 at 3:51pm
It is only a matter of time before Seedorf becomes the scapegoat. Come summer, Milan will not buy anybody that improves the team. Yet they will expect Seedorf to perform a miracle next season with the same group. No star players damages confidence in a team. When a new manager comes in it is like the invincibility perk you temporarily get in mario kart. It doesnt last long before that shield goes. Milan are lucky the competitiveness in serie A is low otherwise they would be struggling even more
on the 5th March, 2014 at 2:37pm
Viktor's secret

Re-read your last post, it is has a tone of "we almost". Who cares how well you played? Milan play well rarely. When they do they still lose. Barca last season, madrid this year and Juve.

Milan are not a good team. Ancelotti is a great manager. He won you your last CL. Berla blamed his failings to spend any money on Ancelotti.

Which one of his successors has won anything except allegri? The point i make is Berla is killing his own creation.
on the 5th March, 2014 at 2:30pm
@ Daniel Giambrone
We lost! Remember the fundamental aim of football, concede less than you score! We dont do either very well. It was the same story against athletico mad. playing well doesnt give us the points we need to salvage something from this terrible season. The problem we have is we are making countless excuses becz we have a new manager and other endless excuses but the bottom line is we cant score and we cant seem to go through a game without conceding!
on the 4th March, 2014 at 11:17pm
@DOMINATOR

Considering we dominated first half yes I did. Seedorf has actually done great and he shouldn't have lost against atl, ours to win( don't for a second come up with something else). We did well against Juve and well against Napoli. I know you have immense hate for milan but lets be honest, he has done A LOT better then allegri did first half 2013. Work in progress, so far most people are satisfied and have faith him in, except for you, the all knowing football guru.
on the 4th March, 2014 at 5:47pm
@juveman

Yeah we sorta missed a player too.. Instead of Pazzini we could have have had Balo and de scgilio.

Good game tho, bit annoyed at the result. Surprised Juve sat back as much as they did throughout the game but I guess Milan were the team that had something to prove not Juve.
on the 4th March, 2014 at 4:15pm
did anyone seriously expect anything different other then a juve win?

Milan are rivals by name, not by nature. People bang on about the Seedorf affect. Whenever a new manager comes in it is natural for players to have a confidence boost. But the man has already lost two matches and drawn. He isn't any better then allegri and that new manager confidence is a ticking time bomb before the players revert to crap again. Seedorf will be gone by Christmas.
on the 4th March, 2014 at 2:44pm
Kudos to Juve though. They are relentless, and just when you think that you've put them away or got them against the ropes, they always come back. When I was watching The Terminator (again) the other day, it kind of reminded of Conte & Juve: the ruthless efficiency & the steadfast pursuit of its targets. Maybe Juve should come onto the pitch with the Terminator theme.
on the 4th March, 2014 at 10:46am
Juve struggled IMO because: Vidal was missing, & Marchisio just cannot boss the midfield like the Chilean, Milan played very well, & the 352. I think that Juve will struggle against the stronger teams with the 352. 352 is good enough for Serie A, as Juve have clearly showed for 3 years; but in Europe (& Seedorfs continental style), a 433 may be needed. Juve looked good against Madrid using it, but how much better could they be with orthodox wide forwards & more games/familiarity with this system
on the 4th March, 2014 at 10:31am
@mm, I feel that the praise is justified. Let's not forget who Milan were playing & all the problems they caused Juve. I haven't seen Juve struggle like that since the Bayern ties. A defeat isn't hard to take if your team has had a go, & carved out numerous chances. Under Allegri, Milan often went out with a whimper. On another night, the result could have been so different. Mustafaa, there is no way Conte set his team up to play like that & concede so many chances. TBC
on the 4th March, 2014 at 10:17am
Let us also not forget we were technically with out two(three) of our very best players in Vidal and Chiello plus pogba was virtually not there(by far worst performance ive ever seen from him) But still good showing from milan i must admit.
on the 4th March, 2014 at 9:48am
Juve now have the 1,2 punch. And rather than an actual old lady hitting a guy in the crotch and then over the head, it was much closer to a muhammed ali weathering the storm and barrage of jabs and crosses only to land a massive jab and hook of his own sending the opposition reeling to ground dazzed,bloodied and utterly confused.
on the 4th March, 2014 at 9:38am
I agree with what Mustafaaaa said and to add to that , I wouldn't worry to much about the lack of intensity, Milan had/got nothing to lose so they had to throw everything at Juve with no fear like a loose cannon , where Juve all needed was to bid their time and then strike , they had played 3 days ago and they were the away team. Good game tho.

FORZA JUVE
on the 4th March, 2014 at 2:11am
Mustaafaaaa has a point, I think. Juve played without possession, as they'd have to play a team like Barcelona, and they still scored two goals by taking their chances and finishing well. They did, and still do, need practice doing both, and this game was excellent practice and will boost the team by everybody knowing they can do it, they can win a game, with so much fatigue from so many games schedules and so much pressure. It's awesome.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 9:31pm
This was the kind of game that wins titles. For an hour, we were abysmal. Buffon and Bonucci kept us in it and without Vidal we were completely outgunned in midfield. Pirlo and Marchisio do not have the physicality to cope, it has to be one or the other as regista. Pogba and Vidal are sublime together, but when one is missing the other suffers. We won because we now have match-winning strikers, who are capable of scoring big goals in big games, something Conte hasn't had till now. FORZA JUVE!!!
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 7:46pm
As a Juve fan, I have to give Milan credit for their performance. They definitely turned the tables on Juve and pressed them hard. Milan had the majority of possession and was very aggressive on the ball - was strange to watch Juve hemmed in their own half for much of the game. Under Seedorf I think we're going to see a different Milan next year. Great game by Montolivo, hope he brings that passion to the Azzurri in Brasil.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 7:40pm
Great victory for Juve, no question. They made their efforts going forward, of which were rare, count. Still, to be second best for such long periods against a team that has struggled a lot this season is something to be concerned about. The 5-3-2 formation has shown Juve up once more against an average milan side. Again, they were slow in attack, negative in possession and reliant on scraps.
Domestically, they can wear any team down but in Europe they will continue to be shown up.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 6:55pm
Till Milan get a new stadium they will be second to Juve. Juve earn 35 mill. more with their new stadium.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 6:14pm
Im a milan fan and I fail to see how losing has resulted in praise! We may have played well but I fail to see but all this game did for me was highlight our weakness which are in defence and attack, I dont think the result would have been any diffrent if balo had played, we simply are not good enough in front of goal! Its not a 1 off either most games have been like this. We concede to many and dont score. Juve played the perfect game- they played pants and won! Y didnt we get tevez!!!!
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 6:12pm
Rami was responsible for the first goal but otherwise did ok. Bonera had one of his good games. Monty was fantastic and shouldn't have been subbed. De Jong was poor and actually offers very little cover for the defence. Poli did well and abate was probably along with Monty our best player. Our set pieces are a non-event . In the end I left the stadium proud!
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 5:57pm
I was at the milan game and the performance was good. How they failed to score is beyond me. But I did notice there wasn't great movement off the ball and the final ball was poor. Emanuelson did ok but his crossing is poor. De sciglio has to play. While kaka on the left and tarabat in a free role was a nice tactical surprise and worked well in the first half kaka shouldn't play on the left and tarabat has no final ball. Again we concede goals. You can bank on it.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 5:52pm
Milan played well but as we can see the 4 2 3 1 is a nice way to play, when u have the proper players to do it. Milan simply missed way too many chances in the 1st half. Plus lets be honest Milan have been killed by injuries, this isnt an excuse but the truth.
No Balotelli (we needed his finishing badly last night)
No Stephen, we have nobody that can play on the left wing
No DeSciglio, emanuelsson is a brutal left back
No Zapata (who was probably oru top3 players this season)
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 5:18pm
Juve weren't weak, they played their game and got what they want. It was Conte's masterpiece as he took into account that his players only had two days to prepare for the match.

Grande Conte, grande Juve.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 4:05pm
Too bad Milan couldn't finish yesterday or this game would've been done in the first half. Good to see Milan play well. Haven't seen too many games played in the majority of Juves half. That's what happens when you don't finish. Carlito's goal was crazy. Abate was ball watching which led to Juves first but still overall Milan played the better game.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 3:11pm
Agree with Dino Al in complementing a much improved Milan side,perhaps Juve had to win ugly but there was nothing ugly about the well taken strikes.Roma are beginning to fall apart as anticipated and the Scudetto will soon be adorning "The Old Lady" once again.I look forward to re-vitalised Milan challenging next season.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 2:02pm
Milan like any poor average team will always raise their game again the best team. I wouldn't worry about how well they did lets not forget they lost. Milan will be back to the Milan way soon, losing games
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 2:01pm
Best match of the weekend in Europe by far in terms of quality was the Milan Juve clash. Juve mugged Milan it has to be said as they were dominated but Milan were toothless in attack while Juventus were ruthless. I thot Monty played very well & couldn't understand his substitution when Taarabt, who did well in the 1st half did nothing in the 2nd. As for Roma, RG needs to show more courage in his subs. Makes no sense having 3 holding midfielders when you need to score and y is Pjanic on the bench
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 1:32pm
I must compliment this Milan side, their performance was exceptional. They needed a couple of goals, but luck wasn't on their side. Juve looked poor throughout the match, and the scoreline was flattering but it also shows that Juve are becoming stronger by the week.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 12:11pm
It is good to see a competitive Milan. It's good for the Serie A. Why didn't they get rid of Allegri sooner.
on the 3rd March, 2014 at 11:54am

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