Vincenzo Montella’s Milan is like those nice guys who don’t get any girl. You may play well, but if you miss the final touch and the efficiency to get things done, you won’t necessarily finish last…but surely far from the Champions League zone, the target set for the season by their brand new Chinese owners. Juventus, conversely, is cynical and experienced, and today found back its lost forward Gonzalo Higuain – who demolished the red and black troops in San Siro with two goals.
The once-top-scorer in Serie A, who two years ago set a record for the top Italian division with 36 goals scored in a single championship, was in the missing list among Juventus ranks since the very beginning of the season. He decided to come back in one of the most hotly contested games in Italy, showing those moves and that instinct which only true strikers possess, and that had convinced the Agnelli family to pay 90 million euros to snatch him away from Napoli.
El Pipita also showed a renewed harmony with his fellow countryman Paulo Dybala, as La Joya contributed to both Juventus goals, serving him a perfect assist, and propitiating his second scoring with a delicious “velo” (letting the ball slide, making as if he wanted to play it – Isn’t it amazing how Italian can express such a concept with a single word?)
If Milan played full time with the aggressiveness shown in the first five minutes, we would likely be commenting a different outcome – yet the Rossoneri were left with no fuel in the tank quite soon, and their offenses lacked organization and effectiveness. His newcomers concerningly continue to offer little added value, the best among them being a restless Fabio Borini – who was paid only six million euros among the 230 totally invested in the calciomercato campaign…
After a long range shot by Dybala, easily controlled by Gianluigi Donnarumma, Juventus broke the balance at 23.’ Higuain caught a pass by La Joya, and outclassed his marker Alessio Romagnoli to beat the Rossoneri’s goalkeeper for the first time.
A left side cross at 25’ by Borini, narrowly missed by Nikola Kalinic, was the first clear occasion for Milan. Kalinic showed all his current limits as a striker again just before half time, when he sent to the crossbar a ball than only asked to be pushed past Gianluigi Buffon. When the ball bounced back, Hakan Calhanoglu failed to tap it in, as defender Daniele Rugani blocked it with its body. That’s all the Rossoneri could produce in 90 minutes, despite much running and ball possession.
60 minutes into the game, Montella sent in Manuel Locatelli for disastrous Lucas Biglia, hoping to play the same script as one year ago – when the former Primavera talent had shockingly knocked Juventus down with a long-range missile shot.
But this is a different movie, and the Bianconeri doubled their lead right when Montella’s boys where trying to adjust themselves to their new playmaker. Kwadwo Asamoah dashed from the left flank to serve a penetrative pass aimed at Higuain, Dybala slided through it, and the Pipita could catch the ball and deliver it past Donnarumma with another straight shot.
That was basically the end of the game, with the away supporters starting to celebrate on the stands, and sing Chi non salta rossonero é – “Who doesn’t jump is a Rossonero.” This is the most common chant you can hear in an Italian stadium. It has the advantage of being completely customizable, as every supporter can build their own Chi non salta, addressing it to any rival team. You are obviously supposed to be jumping while singing it – otherwise you would be a Rossonero.
The real Rossoneri, those playing on the pitch, kept attacking for a few more minutes, but still in a quite disorganized way. Montella sent in Andre Silva, switching to a two-men attacking line, but Buffon could have simply go back to the bench, and watch the last 20 minutes from there. It wouldn’t have made any difference.
It’s difficult to predict what the future holds now for the Neapolitan trainer. Five losses out of eleven games is a heavy burden to bear, and a free-from-duties Carlo Ancelotti a suggestive idea for replacement. Much will depend on the outcome of the Rossoneri’s next Europa League task, this coming Thursday in Athens against AEK.
As for Juventus – Massimiliano Allegri’s Bianconeri left San Siro conscious that they can still count on Gonzalo Higuain, after all. They did their job for the week, and can start putting their minds to Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Lisbon, as they look at Napoli and Inter playing tomorrow – with the hope that opponents Sassuolo and Verona will help them reducing the gap with the lead.
SCORER: 23’ Higuain, 63’ Higuain
MILAN (3-4-2-1): G. Donnarumma; Zapata, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Abate (61’ Locatelli), Kessié, Biglia (61’ Antonelli), Borini; Suso, Calhanoglu (76’ André Silva); Kalinic. (A. Donnarumma, Storari, Paletta, Musacchio, Gomez, Montolivo, Zanellato, Mauri, Cutrone). Coach: Montella.
JUVENTUS (4-2-3-1): Buffon; Lichtsteiner (65’ Barzagli), Rugani, Chiellini, Asamoah (70’ Alex Sandro); Pjanic, Khedira (80’ Matuidi); Cuadrado, Dybala, Mandzukic; Higuain. (Szczesny, Pinsoglio, De Sciglio, Marchisio, Bentancur, Sturaro, Bernardeschi, Douglas Costa). Coach: Allegri.
REFEREE: Mr. Valeri from Roma
NOTES: Attendance: 78.328; Yellow Cards: Kessié, Zapata (M)