Some thought the Juventus ship couldn't sink any further. They thought a few weeks off would do some good to allow the players to forget the disaster that had become their season.
Those people were wrong.
In a game that could very well seal Ciro Ferrara's fate as the Old Lady's manager, Juventus continued its awful spell of form that people had hoped was left behind when the calendar flipped over to January. An embarrassing 3-0 loss at home to arch rivals Milan has now extended the Juve crisis into 2010—something that nobody could've ever seen when the season began.
It's like the exit from the Champions League against Bayern Munich all over again.
With Juventus seemingly missing half of the usual starting lineup, Ferrara fielded a 4-4-1-1 formation with Diego playing just behind Amauri up top. Milan boss Leonardo countered with the same lineup that thumped Genoa 5-2 on Wednesday.
Juventus had the first real chance of the game and it was courtesy of Diego. The Brazilian playmaker worked his way past two defenders on the edge of the box, but was anything but balanced and saw his rock of an attempt go wide of the far post.
As the first half went on, it was Juve who was looking like the better team. The defense was playing well, and while the offense wasn't creating many chances in front of goal, the offense was at least looking like it showed up.
Marco Borriello had two chances to get the opener within a matter of minutes. Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini was having none of it as he stopped both attempts as he knocked a David Beckham cross to Borriello over the line for a corner and then blocked a half-volley off the Milan striker's boot.
However, Milan did get the opener a half hour in and it was Alessandro Nesta who would start a trend that would continue the rest of the night. Felipe Melo, who has been under fire almost as much as his manager, completely whiffed on an attempt to clear the Andrea Pirlo corner and Nesta was waiting on the back post to simply tap it in and put his team ahead 1-0.
One moment of horrendous defending on a set piece and Juve was down.
Juventus came close to leveling the score at one seven minutes later when a complete scramble in the box led to Chiellini getting a chance to score at point-blank range. The Italian defender had to use every inch of his big frame to try and get a shot off and the result was a chance that was right at Milan keeper Dida.
Milan came right back just before the halftime whistle when defender Thiago Silva launched a long-range rocket that caught the Juve defense off guard. Juventus keeper Alexander Manninger did well to parry the ball out for a corner.
The first half ended and Juventus exited the field to the all to familiar sound of the whistles and boos from the crowd. This is not the Juventus of old. Hell, it's not even the Juventus from four months ago.
Juve seemed to have a little more fight in them as the second half got underway. Within a minute, the Bianconeri had earned a corner. The result of it saw Amauri's header turn into a flick to Chiellni, who couldn't get a hold of it and saw the ball go across the line for a goal kick.
A few minutes later Chiellini again found himself in the box and this time his overhead kick attempt was on goal, but didn't trouble Dida whatsoever.
On the 60-minute mark, Ferrara introduced Alessandro Del Piero to the delight everybody in the crowd. The Juve captain, who has been in terrible form since returning from injury, got involved right away but his first touches were nothing to remember.
Del Piero tried an ambitious volley that seemed to go over everything on the field and right into the crowd. It was something that would begin a terrible end to the match thay was fitting of how Juve's season had gone.
Just three minutes after Del Piero's entrance, Paolo De Ceglie found himself coming into the match as well after Dane Christian Poulsen picked up a nasty knock to his ankle and couldn't continue. You can now add Poulsen's name to the walking wounded.
With 20 minutes to go, Milan got the two-goal lead they were desperately looking for. It came on another corner, with Ronaldinho putting the ball in the back of the net as he was left unmarked at the far post. The Brazilian's header took a slight glance off of De Ceglie's head and past Manninger.
As Juve's season was officially sent up in smoke, fans started to light fires in the stands. The Juve faithful had reached their breaking point with their beloved club has turned into a complete mess. Summed things up nicely, don't you think?
With fog rolling into the Olimpico and Juve looking less potent as the game came to a close, Milan went up 3-0 with only three minutes left and officially put the nail in Juve's coffin. Ronaldinho again scored off a corner, this time after Beckham swung one in and the Brazilian knocked in a close-range effort.
Horrible defending on set pieces had killed Juve all season and against Milan it was no different. The marking was non-existent and they paid the price.
We all thought this ship had reached the bottom of the sea. We were wrong.
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