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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...
Pretty harsh to save Juve only created "their one and only quality passage of play across the 90 minutes" for the goal. Higuain and Dybala both went close in the second half from good moves.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 1:43pm
We lack so much quality its actually ridiculous. Calhanoglu lacks everything. Every single touch, is poor, every pass is poor, every decision, every run, everything lacks quality its beyond me how educated footballing people fail to see this. Suso played hes best for us in that first half. Stroke of intelligence playing xmas tree formation, two ams beind piatek. Creates easier opportunities to play off each other. Smart. Unfortunately we lack a lot of quality.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 1:25pm
I disagree, i dont think milan looked all that good. I think we saw a very poor Juve side, and a good formational change by Pioli to make us look decent. The lack of quality was still evident, but our Xmas tree formation managed to close alot of passing lanes for Juve, and with their lineup of matuidi, berna and pjanic marked was never gonna get anywhere. Second half when suso dropped wide, spaces opened up and juve was always going to win the game by that point.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 1:21pm
oh my god, kill me now. granit Xhaka... kill me now. oh god oh god oh god
on the 11th November, 2019 at 1:11pm
Meh, this is story of every match for Milan. Few positives but no results.

We're in 14th place for God's sake.

I bet next matchday against Napoli it will be the same story, we'll be forced to take the positives and leave the result.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 12:37pm
Poor advert for Serie A. Compared to Liverpool v Man City, last night's Italian offering was Sunday park football. The stadium wasn't even full! There has to be a complete re-think about Italian football because the whole structure is a shambles. Ronaldo is already starting to look bored and the newer signings (Rabiot in particular) look like they want to shoot their agents. I can't blame Sarri too much because he inherited an unbalanced squad, but he can't seem to find the right mix.Depressing.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 12:36pm
@Maidini's Heir

*drop of 16 goals, not 26 ;)
on the 11th November, 2019 at 12:16pm
not enough pace and physicality;

c) Agreed.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 11:42am
@ Anonymous

a) I was not only focusing on last nights game, I was talking about his overall stats since he’s come to Serie A. He scored 23 less goals in his first season with Juve than his last season with Real.

b) I’m not interested in marketing, I’m interested in the substance. Tactically Serie A is holding back players. Look what happened to Salah. He’s tripled his goals and assists since he left Roma. The tactics in Serie A are too rigid, there’s no appreciation of possession and there’s
on the 11th November, 2019 at 11:41am
@Gee do u mean the top of Serie B? Milan won’t be back until they find a sugar daddy before bankruptcy.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 11:11am
I don’t understand why Sarri trusted Bernadeschi so much. Can’t dribble, pass and score.
Juventus should sell him with Emre Can and Ramsay and bring back Pogba.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 11:07am
@maldini heir
1- Ronaldo is nursing an injury that's why he isnt playin to the levels

2- Serie A has become less successful because there doesn't seem to be proper marketing strategies to promote the league, they seem to be living on former glories.

3- Italians need to do away with the "council or city owns the stadia" nonsense.. the political shenanigans of the few will stifle clubs. look at the difference between juve and the others
on the 11th November, 2019 at 10:38am
play with proper trequartista’s anymore? Bernadeschi is not one. Milan started with two potential but one was stuck in a rigid 3 man midfield and one was stuck out on the left wing. And the result was a really poor match. Serie A is killing players. I mean if Ronaldo, one of the greatest players of all time, has seen his levels drop off this quickly, what hope is there for other players.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:46am
play with proper trequartista’s anymore? Bernadeschi is not one. Milan started with two potential but one was stuck in a rigid 3 man midfield and one was stuck out on the left wing. And the result was a really poor match. Serie A is killing players. I mean if Ronaldo, one of the greatest players of all time, has seen his levels drop off this quickly, what hope is there for other players.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:46am
In many respects this sums up Serie A. Players do not perform at the same level in Serie A as they do elsewhere. Look at Salah. Again the issue is the rigidity. In the 90s Serie A was the toughest league in the world but also the most successful. So that was fine. But when Serie A is no longer competitive in Europe what’s the point of the rigidity? Particularly when that rigidity is holding us back against the more fluid football being played in better leagues? How many teams in Serie A even
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:40am
Ronaldo is not young anymore but since he arrived in Serie A his levels have dropped considerably. His last season at Real he scored 44 goals in 44 appearances. The very next season for Juve he scored 28 in 43. Not bad but a drop of 26 goals in one season. Now some might say La Liga is easier. But La Liga is hands down the most successful league in Europe. Spanish teams have won 6/10 last Champions Leagues AND Europa Leagues. Italian teams have barely gotten out of their groups in this time.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:32am
juve dident really create many chances for themeselves...and at the moment it is only one player on the team, dybala or costa, that is getting the job done....something needs to change.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:12am
Mighty Juventas How long you have been hoping that those old triggers going to take you running through top. It was Allegri and some others. Now scenario has changed. New players new coach a presumably new style. Ramsey and Rabiot must alway start along slightly formational change. And in defence since you forfeit the idea of three man defence you need to increase your defence calibre double. Demirai is the new project not bonucci who was part of that three man defence
on the 11th November, 2019 at 9:01am
When Milan get back on top I want to see what the comments are going to be from the people below.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 8:50am
From a psychological perspective it was a good outing for Milan, however, they need to learn to take their chances. Juve has been doing this Houdini act for a number games in recent weeks so I cant understand the logic that they allowed Milan some leeway...they have just not been at expected levels and Milan should have taken advantage of it. Some positives in the form of Bennacer, Theo, Paqueta,so we do have some promising youngsters to build on.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 8:44am
Well done Milan.....You surely deserved a win.Much better than the Italian champions.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 8:19am
As Romanista, I feel sorry for all Milanisti in the world. The management post-Berlusconi (and his last 2 or 3 years) is clearly putting this once invincible team as one of relegation candidates. Maybe a relegation will slap them in the face not to make empty promises to their fans anymore.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 7:16am
The problem isnt Ronaldo

How can he get an assist from someone like matuidi and berna?

Best juve xi should be

Ronaldo Higuain
Ramsay/Dybala
Rabiot Pjanic Costa
Alex Deligt Bonucci Cuadrado
Szczesny
on the 11th November, 2019 at 6:26am
Meanwhile deep free kicks are in a terrible position because it's hard to get the right projection on the ball, the defence have the advantage of coming onto the cross and runners need to be careful of offside. Generally deep free kicks should be taken quickly to keep the ball moving. However in Serie A teams tend to prefer deep free kicks. This is Milan in nutshell. Everything is forced. The reality is Milan never came close to scoring. And haven't in most games this season.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 4:48am
chances. Suso's deep cross to Piątek was not actually a very good chance and it sums up Milan/Serie A play - passes are difficult and forced, nothing is simple. A good example of this is corners and indirect free kicks. A corner is in the ideal position to cross the ball: it's at the byline, players can run on to the ball, if it's taken directly players can time their runs. But in Serie A teams prefer to complicate the situation with short corners. I've no idea how players time their runs.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 4:45am
Sorry to talk off topic.
How in VAR draw the offside line?
What i saw in the cagliari first goal the offside line is tilted and it is not parallel to the penalty area line.

I would really appreciate it if you can help me.
Many thanks.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 4:35am
Despite all of the positives, a few things to note:
a) I said last week that Pioli/Gasperini have created more problems than they've solved - Pioli's falling out with Kessie has created another problem and Krunic is not the solution given he's too similar to the likes of Paqueta and Çalhanoğlu;
b) speaking of Çalhanoğlu apart from a few shots from distance he offered nothing in the game and it remains a mystery why he's so untouchable;
c) while Milan created chances, they were all difficult
on the 11th November, 2019 at 4:22am
Obviously can't complain too much about a narrow defeat away to Juve where we matched them. Of course the win sums up the difference between Juve and Milan; the former can play badly and win. Another difference is that Bonucci and Higuain can play with character and determination for Juve and crumble under pressure for Milan. There is more pressure at Milan because whoever comes to Milan is expected to lift them to a championship winning side. At Juve you are joining the champions.
on the 11th November, 2019 at 4:16am
To put this douchey author in his place: Lineker never said that (the opening quote of this hapless and idiotic article).

The actual quote is (verbatim):

"Football is a simple game.
Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win."

Notice the quote doesn't condescend against the Germans, calling them "despite being second best" because football is not about 70% possession, or 20 shots on goal, it's about who scores more.

But douches will be douches...
on the 11th November, 2019 at 3:21am
FI Just Stop! they were never close even when Juve was at there very worse Milan was still trash. Sarri gave them the opportunity to compete by not starting Costa, Dybala, Ramsey or Rabiot and Milan even if the game was still playing right now would still not score a goal
on the 11th November, 2019 at 2:51am

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