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Catenaccio is alive

AC Milan were held to a 0-0 draw by Juventus at San Siro on Sunday evening. The result saw the Rossoneri drop four points behind league leaders Inter Milan having played a game more.

 

 

The game got off to a cagey start with both sides looking to impose themselves in midfield. The Italian battle between Manuel Locatelli and Sandro Tonali was particularly feisty, threatening to boil over any minute.

Juan Cuadrado, playing further up the field on the night, had the first sighter of the match, firing wide on his weak foot after drifting inside from the right. Juventus looked the better side in the opening exchanges but that would quickly turn.

Rafael Leao who is the in-form man for Milan right now grew into the game. He forced Wojciech Szczesny into a good save after some neat one touch buildup play at the edge of the box. The Rossoneri were dealt a blow in the 28th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic had to go off for Olivier Giroud due to what looked like an ankle injury.

 

 

That did not stop Milan’s insurgence. Davide Calabria was the surprising threat to Juventus’ goal, firing two shots in quick succession just wide of either post just after the half hour mark.

Stefano Pioli’s men continued to dominate but were unable to break down a Juve defence that included the returning Giorgio Chiellini. The teams went into the break on level terms with Milan slight on top but the game remained in the balance.

 

 

Juve again started on the front foot and should have tested Mike Maignan when Mattia de Sciglio’s cross found Alvaro Morata. The Spanish striker though could only guide his header wide of the far post.

Giroud was found in a similar position by Calabria at the other end but the Frenchman inexplicably tried to head the ball across the goal to no one when going for goal was the better option. Theo Hernandez also tested Szczesny after a driving run as Milan regained their composure.

Szczesny was called into action again by Giroud, who hit the target this time but was unable to beat the Pole from Alexis Saelemaekers cross. Both sides continued to push, but neither side had the quality or the luck to get the winner.

Here are our key takeaways from the match –

 

INTER THE REAL WINNERS

The draw meant that AC Milan now are four points off the top, dropping down to third behind Napoli on goal difference. Inter Milan extended their lead at the top of the Serie A after securing a late goal against Venezia.

The Nerazzurri look increasingly like that they will run away with the league. They have developed a habit of winning matches even when they don’t play well which is something their challengers seem to fail to do.

 

IBRA OUT?

Milan’s efforts were hurt by an injury to their star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the first half which is a huge concern for Pioli. It seemed to be an Achilles injury that caused him to be substituted which could be an aggravation of an old injury.

 

 

Pioli will be hoping that it is not a serious injury with a derby against Inter coming up along with a Coppa Italia quarterfinal against Lazio. The injury could be a season defining one, especially if Olivier Giroud fails to find his shooting boots.

 

AN UNFINISHED PUZZLE

Juventus are on a nine game unbeaten run but they still lie outside the top four and they have looked very short of ideas since the injury to Federico Chiesa in the game against Roma.

Allegri has certainly made some positive changes in the side but there is a lack of clinicality in the side that is unlikely to change without new signings. They will be lucky to get top four this season but that could be key in attracting the top talents from Europe.

Ritwik Khanna
Economics student supporting FC Goa and Manchester United, in true masochistic way. Can be found reading Jonathan Wilson and Sid Lowe or planning a quirky trip in his free time.

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