Juventus went into this match following a highly disappointing 0-0 away to Bologna and in a poor run of goal scoring form away from home. Even before the whistle blew to begin the game, it was quickly descending into a nightmarish evening for il Bianconeri. As if losing Milos Krasic to suspension was not bad enough, Giorgio Chiellini then pulled up injured in the pre-match warm-up. Shorn of their two most effective players the Juve certainly couldn't win?
Quickly that idea was thrown out; a perfect cross from the vastly improved Paolo De Ceglie was met by a fine header from Fabio Quagliarella to give Juventus an unexpected lead. To make the game even more difficult, De Ceglie then clashed with Daniele Bonera, both men going off injured and Delneri being forced to deploy Simone Pepe as an emergency fullback.
From then on Juventus just remained steadfast in their shape, content to hit Milan on the break, and then it happened. Momo Sissoko ruined a one-on-one with Abbiati, but there to pick up the pieces was Alessandro Del Piero, who cooly slotted home Serie A goal No. 179, which made him the clubs all-time leading scorer.
After that the game was all Milan, throwing everything they had, including Pippo Inzaghi (literally throwing himself) at Storari’s goal, but Juventus played, perhaps for the first time, as a true Gigi Delneri side. Holding their shape—and their nerve—to survive the onslaught. Ibrahimovic pulled on back, making the finish even more tense, but the grinta & non mollare mai spirit of old was fully evident here. A hugely impressive win, three vital points, and a huge boost to morale and form ahead of a vital time in the season.
Five Keys To Victory
- Juve’s preparation was perfect. As was discussed on “It Ain’t Over…” podcast a younger, faster fitter team (with more time to prepare) should always trouble this Milan side, Aquilani, Melo and Marchisio never let their opponents settle in midfield, stifling Pirlo as they had to.
- Nicola Legrottaglie was pressed into a starting role in an absolutely massive game at no more than ten minutes notice, and it did not show. A true professional, a real leader and a hugely impressive defensive performance, all reasons why he must be retained after his contract expires this summer. His calm radiated through the defensive unit.
- Milan’s defense was exactly as slow as expected. When under pressure, particularly on the counter attack, they looked woefully inept; Juventus took full advantage.
- Coach Delneri was gold at San Siro, completely out-thinking and out-maneuvering his opposite number. Nothing Allegri tried seemed to work, while every single decision Delneri made came off.
- Simone Pepe finally got “terzino’ed” in the last game anyone believed it would happen. His closing down and tracking of runs was superb, but the position is still one he is far from comfortable in. He lunged into a number of tackles and was twice beaten in the air at the far post, once on the Milan goal. That running-while-looking-over-your-shoulder is a tough skill, and will take time, but an impressive debut nevertheless for the winger.
Storari 6.5, Motta 6, Bonucci 6.5, Legrottaglie 7, De Ceglie 7, Martinez 6, Melo 7.5, Aquilani 7.5, Martinez 6, Del Piero 7, Quagliarella 7.5 Subs: Pepe 6, Sissoko 6, Amauri NM