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Monday November 11 2019
Milan almost there with Juventus

Milan will be disappointed their tactical masterstrokes forced Juventus to play badly, writes Elio Salerno, but not enough to stop them winning again.

For regular viewers of calcio, it was a game that had an all too familiar feel about it. Paraphrasing a certain Gary Lineker, Italian football is a simple game, two teams chase a ball for 90 minutes and in the end, despite being second best, Juventus always win.

The game started at a frantic pace. Milan’s early intensity prevented Juve from settling into any kind of rhythm, resulting in numerous turnovers of possession as both sides grappled to gain control. Stefano Pioli’s side deployed a high line, committing numbers to press and backing themselves to defend the space left behind. It worked, Juve threatened on occasions, but a disciplined defensive line meant any early forward runs were caught offside.

Cristiano Ronaldo went in search of a way into the game, his role in Maurizio Sarri’s team is becoming increasingly free-roaming, as he drifted into different areas in order to try to affect the attack. However, CR7 was having little effect on proceedings.

Gonzalo Higuain looked alert and appeared to be playing on Milan centre-back Leo Duarte. The Argentine made a couple of dangerous darting runs off the Brazilian defender’s shoulder almost resulting in chances on goal. Juve appeared to be targeting Milan’s left, focusing the majority of their attacks down that side.

As the first half developed, Pioli’s tactics came to the fore with his team looking increasingly confident and in control. The former Fiorentina boss had prepared perfectly, stunting Sarri’s Juve. In possession his favoured 4-2-3-1 had a couple of clever twists, causing the home side problems. Behind Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek, Milan’s attacking trio of Suso, Lucas Paqueta and Hakan Calhanoglu caused difficulties in Juve’s midfield with their clever spacing.

Playing as a narrow three with Suso centrally forced Miralem Pjanic and co to narrow up around them. It resulted in Blaise Matuidi, Rodrigo Bentancur and Federico Bernardeschi pressing ineffectively. Rade Krunic would cleverly leave his role in Milan’s double pivot to step forward and take up a position outside of Calhanoglu, creating what looked like a 4-1-4-1. With Krunic stepping in and making a narrow midfield four, he opened up space outside of him on the left for the eager Theo Hernandez. On the opposite side, Andrea Conti chose to join the attacks later, opting to run from deep when Paqueta had the ball in half spaces on the right.

Out of possession, the visitors opted for a compact 4-3-2-1. Suso and Calhanoglu worked tirelessly to box off Juve’s midfield conductor Pjanic. The Bosnian could not find a way into proceedings, his every move was locked down.

Juve had no answers, there was a distinct lack of fluidity and quality to their play. Il Diavolo were just missing a goal that their first half display deserved. By the end of half, Juve would have been relieved to go in level with Polish stopper Wojciech Szczesny forced to pull off a number of fine saves.

The second half was dominated by substitutions. The tempo of the match had dropped off slightly as Milan understandably found it tough to match their efforts from the first period. Ronaldo was first to be withdrawn after signalling to the bench that his on-going knee injury would prevent him from continuing. Milan coach Pioli responded by calling on Giacomo Bonaventura, which saw a shift in his set-up. Returning to a more orthodox 4-2-3-1, Bonaventura played closer to Piatek with Suso wider on the right, Calhanoglu on the left and Paqueta dropping alongside Ismael Bennacer.

Midweek match-winner Douglas Costa then replaced Bernardeschi on the hour mark as Sarri looked to spark his side into life. Under Max Allegri, Juve often found ways to win as a result of individual moments and quality from the bench, it’s a tactic that’s currently working wonders for his replacement.

On 77 minutes, the Turin giants produced their one and only quality passage of play across the 90 minutes. Douglas Costa started the move before a neat combination on the edge of the box saw Higuain expertly divert the ball to Ronaldo’s replacement Paulo Dybala. La Joya sold Alessio Romagnoli a dummy as he dragged the ball onto his less favoured right foot before slotting home past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Milan went in search of the equaliser that their performance deserved, but found Szczesny in top form as he continued to thwart the Rossoneri.

Despite the result, Milanisti will take a fair few positives. Individually there were improved displays with the likes of Conti and Bennacer the standouts, but more importantly there was direction and cohesion to the team. This should provide them a platform to build on.

As for Sarri, on the face of it his Juve go into the international break top the league and with Champions League Round of 16 qualification secure. But with questions marks over the form of star player Cristiano Ronaldo and another sub-standard showing, pressure will be on to see more aesthetically pleasing football in the coming weeks.

Have your say...
@Zoli the butthurt. You're trying too hard bringing in Iaquinta's name to this conversation, a player who almost spent his career as Juve's player on operating table. Either you're dumb or playing dumb, having champions in your team doesn't mean you will instantly win a championship. I pity you, I do. Milan is a joke, no need to denial.
on the 14th November, 2019 at 5:16am
Milan should not act as provincial team by signing unsuccessful coaches.please this is a great club but it is being destroyed by lack of ambition.Inter were like Milan some years ago but their decision to bring in Conte has started to bear fruits.
on the 13th November, 2019 at 3:16pm
Milan have a below average side plain and simple. They've been ripped off with some of the most shocking players we have ever seen in the famous red and black of AC Milan.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 11:51pm
Giancarlo, or C, or Mom (whatever), unfortunately I don’t hang out here long and often enough to get to know people, with few exceptions of some older, value –added guests who provide pleasant companionship.
I completely misjudged you. The more you speak the more you show the true color of your teeth and just how short you fall from reason, manners, respect and just a normal conversation as a bare minimum.
It must be sad to find time for this kind of enjoyment in one’s life.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 9:58pm
@Giancarlo

“For your information Conte had Buffon, Pirlo, Del Piero, Barzagli (all World Cup Champions) in his 1st season as Juve manager.”

You are correct except to mention that three more world champions, in Grosso, Iaquinta and Toni were also there the year before when they finished 7th.
But don’t let these small pesky facts get in the way of proving your point.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 9:37pm
“they need a complete overhaul a proper manager”
Anonymous, if you noticed, Milan has been overhauling for the last few years now, top to bottom.
I was told that long time ago a pretty smart old guy with white hair and a funny look said something about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results … his name eludes me now.
So the overhauling solution applies only to Milan or any other team that commits the cardinal sin of finishing one point short of CL football?
on the 12th November, 2019 at 9:33pm
@ Giancarlo C's Mom

Agree with you, nobody can take Juve's mantle as THE "Almost there team", record number of losses in finals. Problem is, you need champions to win the CHAMPIONS league!
on the 12th November, 2019 at 8:45pm
@ Giancarlo C's Mom

Agree with you, nobody can take Juve's mantle as THE "Almost there team", record number of losses in finals. Problem is, you need champions to win the CHAMPIONS league!
on the 12th November, 2019 at 8:44pm
@ Giancarlo C's Mom

Agree with you, nobody can take Juve's mantle as THE "Almost there team", record number of losses in finals. Problem is, you need champions to win the CHAMPIONS league!
on the 12th November, 2019 at 8:43pm
@Zoli, stop hurting yourself with that stupid thought. LOL
Like I said, Leicester's case is anomaly. It's almost similar to Sampdoria in early 90's.

Your question is funny. I dont feel upset with negative tactics used by Italian teams against Juve. Im actually laugh at this funny article because it gives a false hope to Milan fans and unsuprisingly they always fall for it.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 7:51pm
Ronaldo is old, if he is injured stay on the bench. Like Capello said he hasn't run around anyone for ages, it's now only a commercial name. He sells tops, he is the David Beckham of 2018-19-20.
Milan are no where near Juve, 1-0 or 4-0 same thing; you don't get points for nearly winning. Milan can't score, they lack creativity, lack real quality, they need a complete overhaul a proper manager and then time.
We need to stop looking at Milan as if they are suddenly going to click, they are rubbish
on the 12th November, 2019 at 7:22pm
@JuveVGR, yeah they haven't disappeared but we all know they wont win EPL this time, so yeah keep on dreaming with that lame theory of your buddy. For your information Conte had Buffon, Pirlo, Del Piero, Barzagli (all World Cup Champions) in his 1st season as Juve manager.

P.S: You smell like frustrated Milan fan.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 7:11pm
Giancarlo, you’re twisting it and using fallacious logic to your own points you’re trying to shove down our throats. I didn’t say Leicester will happen again, it was brought up as an example against your undisputed theory about “CHAMPIONS”.
I didn’t single out Pioli or any other coach, I simply asked why you talk about a tactical decision as a form of cheating if it’s applied against your team.
Capisci?
Try reading JuveVGR’s and my posts again as capital letters won’t hone your arguing skills.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 5:23pm
I must have been watching a different game...In the game I saw Cr7 had a spoiled little girls tantrum
on the 12th November, 2019 at 2:59pm
Giancarlo C's Mom, Leicester are actually 2nd in EPL so haven't exactly disappeared. Juve went from a mediocre 7th to unbeaten champions so precedents are there for team from nowhere to win any league. It does require the right mentality though and that comes from the coach. Milan need to start there.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 2:19pm
Fairy Tale of Leicester was anomaly,it wont happen twice in this modern football.They won EPL when all Big Teams were weak caused by mostly injured key players.Where are Leicester now?

There's nothing wrong with Pioli's tactic. Unlike Maldini's Heir,I always admire Italian coaches.Pioli was good in Allianz Arena but he definitely wont win a trophy with bunch of mediocre, NOT in Serie A.
You wonder why Juve always find a winning solution, the answer is Juve hire Champions like De Ligt & Dybala.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 11:25am
Giancarlo C’s Mom
Leicester City was bursting at the seams of all the champions they had 3 years ago right?
Just one example – the most extreme, true, but there are many others – to dampen your capital letter spat. Not to take anything away from Juve but they didn’t exactly play with that “champion’s character” either, sometimes quite to the contrary.
And what exactly is wrong with disrupting Juve’s midfielders? You say it like it’s a rip-off or some sort of an illegal tactical crime.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 3:00am
I give both teams credit.
First to Juve because they always find a winning solution, whether dominating games or just scoring with that last kick of the ball and anything else in between.
Second to Milan for causing enough problems to disrupt them, which on paper at least, it seemed wishful thinking. I take the positives of seeing them finally having some balls and challenge, try to find forward passing lanes, etc. but sadly, the problem with almost there is that you're simply not there.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 2:51am
Milan almost there... Hahahaha yeah right. Why not posting Torino Almost There With Juve as they both lost 1-0 to Juve with same approach : no champion's character, just contain Juve's midfielders to disrupt their play and hope for mistakes of the opponent to steal a goal and sit back. Spreading false hope is a sin. To Maldini's Heir, your team is a joke and to win a tournament you need CHAMPIONS. Your repeated lame theory about bunch of mediocre can win is basically TRASH.
on the 12th November, 2019 at 1:03am
@ I MISS MARCO BRANCA AT INTER I suppose the term "Serie A" is a little nebulous. By Serie A I meant "the powers that be" i.e. the people running the clubs. Admittedly my frustrations mostly stem from my own club and seeing how poorly Maldini and Boban have managed to club including by selling our heart and soul in Cutrone, and removing Gattuso and replacing him with nobody's. When Pioli is eventually fired we need to replace him with a foreign manager: Pochettino or Emery.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 11:41pm
Blogs by Milan fans are usually good for a laugh, never for any genuine insight though.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 10:49pm
Ronaldo or Higuain
Costa and Dybala
Ramsay
Rabiot Pjanic
Alex Deligt Bonucci Cuadrado
Szczesny
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:25pm
Milan will never be there with Juve untill they get their own 60.000 seater stadium.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:22pm
Maldini’s Heir: how is it Serie A's fault if individal Serie A teams are poorly managed ? AC Milan spent 200 million of Mr Li's money on virtually NOTHING - not to mention 150 million they spent the year before that? then you for Inter who spent 140 mill + Zaniolo for Joao Mario + Kondogbia + Gabi-one-gol and Nainggolan in which none of them are on the current roster. Yet you have smartly run teams like Napoli + Atalanta top 3 last year ? u can't blame the league for that !!
on the 11th November, 2019 at 7:32pm
A poor display from each and a fair reflection of Serie A today. Milan showed they can be the typically solid, defensive mid-table team for 80 min and take their chances on counters when they come. That is probably all they can hope for from a coach like Pioli and a team that lacks quality "and" pace. Sarri ball has become Allegri ball and we know how unconvincing that became. Ironically, Sarri's lineups and subs remain a mystery to me and prob the main reason why Juve still lack an identity.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 7:08pm
@Dennis while it looks like the author's paraphrasing, it's more like a condescending jab "Juventus are not good enough against most top sides, they, however, sometimes get lucky".

Such pathetic arrogance reeks of nothing but cognitive dissonance, no doubt watching the past 8 years day-in-day-out someone else winning what your pathetic club can only dream of.

A little humility and respect would go a long way, instead of ridiculous low-blows to garner cheap hits on your blog...
on the 11th November, 2019 at 6:32pm
@Maldini's heir CR7 is getting older but besides that serieA may not be as good or more rigid tactically but the defending is a more than 3 steps above la liga which is a joke. Messi would not score as many goals that is for sure. All the greats of yesteryear like Maradona, Platini, Baggio, Del Piero, Totti etc bolstered their goal column with free kicks and pks as serie A aint easy to score from open play. If Messi & CR7 wre posting insane numbers in serie A in the 80s to late 80s then yup GOAT
on the 11th November, 2019 at 3:44pm
Sarri midfield selection feels like it's still preseason.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 3:38pm
service. Matuidi is a ball winner that will run all day and is useful against sides with quality players and creative mf for him to stifle. He is of no use against sides his teams should be beating easily. I have no idea why Rabiot is not starting games. You cannot really think Milan is a big game anymore surely. I've never understood Bernadeschi as apart from his shooting he has no discernible skill set. Romagnoli beat me once shame on you beat me twice with the same trick? Geez
on the 11th November, 2019 at 3:37pm
@Pinturicchio To be fair to the author he did say he was paraphrasing Lineker not quoting him. But we have read all this before in terms of Milan fans taking solace. There's no solace to be had as this has been the pattern for years. Play well against Juve and the like but lose or draw then struggle against an ordinary side. Sorry but containing the mf Sarri put out is nothing to gloat about as there was no ounce of creativity in most of it. Higuain's movement was excellent but alas no decent
on the 11th November, 2019 at 3:30pm

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