Cremonese vs Juventus 0-1: Milik Masterpiece Makes Difference

Juventus returned to Serie A action with another hard-fought 1-0 victory away to relegation-battling Cremonese to strengthen their position in the top-four race. Despite lacking a number of players, the Bianconeri squeezed past one of the main relegation candidates in dramatic fashion.

Despite entering the World Cup break as the only side in Serie A yet to win a league match this season (D7, L8), Cremonese showed notable signs of improvement in November. Back-to-back home draws with Udinese and Milan suggested La Cremo may be on their way to finding their feet in Serie A, at least defensively. 

Based on everything we saw in the first half against Juventus, head coach Massimiliano Alvini has seemingly found a formula to turn his side into a formidable defensive unit. Plagued by injuries to numerous high-profile first-team stars, including marquee striker Dusan Vlahovic, Juventus barely had a clear sight of Cremonese’s goal before halftime. 

Massimiliano Allegri’s attacking duo Arkadiusz Milik and Fabio Miretti were nowhere to be seen in the first half, with Matias Soule soaking up the limelight as the visitors’ most dangerous player. The 19-year-old winger was the closest Juventus forward to change the scoreline before halftime. Yet, Cremonese goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi made two brilliant saves to deny him. 

Perhaps surprisingly, the hosts had far better chances in the opening 45 minutes. Emanuele Valeri netted a phenomenal header from the edge of the box, chipping the ball over Wojciech Szczesny. However, VAR ruled he was just a fraction offside, denying Cremonese an opening goal in the 15th minute. 

It wasn’t the only time the newly-promoted team threatened Juventus as Michele Castagnetti missed the target from point-blank range late in the first half. Despite a tepid stalemate at the break, it wasn’t an uneventful affair at the Stadio Giovanni Zini by any stretch of the imagination. 

Aware of his team’s shortcomings in the first half, Allegri reacted almost immediately after the break. Federico Chiesa and Moise Kean replaced Soule and Nicolo Fagioli, respectively, in the 55th minute as Juventus hoped to turn their fortunes around. 

There’s no doubt that the substitutes changed the dynamics of the game. But it was talented youngster Miretti to fire the first shot on target in the second half. He latched onto a pinpoint ball into the box but could only force another comfortable save from Carnesecchi. 

Juventus controlled the game after the restart, asserting dominance in possession and keeping Cremonese pinned to their opening third. Unfortunately for Allegri’s side, clear-cut chances were hard to come by. 

Filip Kostic, who unleashed a long-range thunderbolt in the first half, threatened again, but his effort from the edge of the box flew over the crossbar. Chiesa soon stepped up to the plate for his first significant contribution since coming from the bench. He met a cross and found enough space to launch a shot a whisker wide of the left post. 

Juventus were nearly punished for squandered opportunities in the 69th minute as the left post denied Cyriel Dessers after he sidestepped Szczesny. Allegri’s men looked in discomfort and a bit out of control, with Adrien Rabiot and Gleison Bremer picking up the bookings in quick succession. 

Unfazed by that yellow card, the Frenchman came close to handing Juventus a much-desired lead in the 78th minute. He produced an attempt from inside the box straight into the welcoming arms of Carnesecchi, who only managed to deflect it. The Cremonese shot-stopper was quickly on his feet to thwart Kean from the rebound.

Inspired by their keeper’s heroics, the hosts pushed forward again, with Valeri dancing his way past the Juventus backline before forcing Szczesny to pull off another good save and turn his attempt into a corner. Allegri’s men weathered the storm and came out victorious. When it looked like Cremonese could register a third consecutive goalless draw at home, Milik slotted home a free-kick in the 91st minute to help Juventus record a fourth straight 1-0 league win on the road.

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