The 2014 TIM Trophy between Milan, Juventus and Sassuolo gave three Serie A clubs the chance to play 45 minutes against each other in what is one of the more unique pre-season friendly tournaments in European football.
The three clubs play one half each against the other two teams, giving a chance for all three coaches to tinker with the lineups and try out different schemes against very different defensive units.
Milan was the biggest winner on the night, surprising given their horrendous summer form. The Rossoneri won their first match against Juventus by a 1-0 scoreline.
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri tried using Claudio Marchisio as a trequartista in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Sebastian Giovinco and Carlos Tevez leading the line. Marchisio played sparingly as an attacking midfielder under Marcello Lippi at the 2010 World Cup, although it didn't bring much success.
On the opposite side, Filippo Inzaghi kept his usual 4-3-3 formation by including Keisuke Honda and new signing Jeremy Menez on the attacking flanks.
The second 45-minute half took place shortly after between Juventus and Sassuolo, with Allegri giving time to some of the new players like Romulo and Roberto Pereyra. It was Pereyra who would score the only goal in that particular game, and the new signing from Udinese showed he could prove to be a versatile option for the coach to deploy in a multitude of positions.
Simone Pepe had two golden chances early on against Sassuolo but missed both in embarrassing fashion. The Italian winger has been injured for the past few seasons and it's clear that he's still not in perfect form to start the new season.
In the final match, Milan took on Sassuolo and beat them handily by a 2-0 margin. Right away, an Emanuele Terranova handball in the box resulted in a penalty for Milan, which was slotted in coolly by Jeremy Menez.
The second goal came from a fantastic effort on the counter-attack from the youngster Stephan El Shaarawy, who received a pass from Honda and gave Milan the 2014 TIM Trophy victory.
It was one of the few moments Rossoneri fans have had to cheer about after a slew of losses from the club during their North American pre-season tour. With Filippo Inzaghi still needing to iron out the kinks in his new side, expect the growing pains to continue into the start of the Serie A campaign.
El Shaarawy will be the main factor in the attack, with Mario Balotelli seemingly on his way to Liverpool, per BBC Sport. The young striker scored 14 goals before Christmas two seasons ago and was the name on everybody's lips around Europe. Unfortunately, a string of injuries meant that his last season was spent looking on from the treatment table rather than being a catalyst on the pitch.
Expect Juventus to rebound easily as they still have the most competitive squad in Serie A. Sassuolo on the other hand have the primary objective of avoiding relegation to the Serie B.
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