Monday, October 18, 2021

Milan hungrier than Juventus

Milan managed to take one point home from the Allianz Stadium, proving to be hungrier than Juventus, writes Lorenzo Bettoni in Turin.

The Allianz Stadium crowd witnessed the good old Juventus during the first 45 minutes of their match against Milan. A similar team to the one that won nine domestic titles in the last ten years.

Not spectacular, but very pragmatic indeed.

Alvaro Morata finished a well-executed counterattack with a wonderful chip shot, giving the Bianconeri the lead after just four minutes.

Max Allegri could not hope for a better start as from that moment, his side could play the way they wanted, waiting for Milan in their own half, trying to score more on the counter.

However, they lacked that final touch to kill off the game. Alvaro Morata and Adrien Rabiot had two excellent opportunities before the break, but they were not clinical nor quick enough to double the Bianconeri’s lead.

Milan even lost Simon Kjaer to an injury but didn’t lose their heads despite having many of their stars on the treatment table, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud.

The game changed in the second half, Milan didn’t create many opportunities, but the Bianconeri never looked as dangerous as they had been in the second half.

Subs made the difference too, Allegri threw in Moise Kean, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski. Stefano Pioli replaced Alexis Saelemaekers and Franck Kessié with Alessandro Florenzi and Ismael Bennacer.

Ironically, the Rossoneri became more dangerous with defensive substitutions, while Juventus looked split into two in the second part.

It’s no surprise Allegri took the blame for his use of substitutions after the final whistle.

Juventus are now without a win in the first four Serie A games for the first time in 60 years, but it would be unfair to pin all the blame on the Tuscan coach.

Juventus don’t seem to have the same attitude they used to have. That same attitude helped them dominate nine of the last ten seasons in Serie A, becoming one of the best sides in Europe during Allegri’s first stint at the club.

“I’ve said it a million times, every ball becomes heavier at Juventus, both when you have it at your feet and when you don’t,” Allegri stressed in his post-match press conference.

He used to say exactly the same during his first spell in Turin. Eventually, he managed to get the team to follow him. This time, the task seems more arduous because the Old Lady has many new young players and because there are different kinds of opponents who are tired just to stay there and watch the Bianconeri lift trophies year in, year out.

Among them it’s Milan. Stefano Pioli’s side is even younger than Juventus, but they’ve grown immensely over the last two seasons.

Just think they travelled to Turin without their leader Zlatan Ibrahimovic as well as Olivier Giroud, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Davide Calabria, Junior Messias and Rade Krunic. Last but not least, they lost Kjaer in the first half, but the man who came in as a replacement, Pierre Kalulu, gave Alex Sandro a hard time, especially in the second half.

One year ago, the Rossoneri’s fortunes seemed to depend on the mere presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the pitch.

Today (and not just because of their result in Turin), they can proudly say they’ve become a team. Paolo Maldini said before the game that the Diavolo feels better this season. And he may be right.

This is not the first time Milan have proven to be stronger than their troubles. They don’t play the best brand of football in Italy, but they are a solid team with clear ideas.

They’ve been playing together for more than two years, so everybody knows exactly their tasks, regardless of who plays.

Sandro Tonali embodies the development of Milan as a team.

The Italian starlet struggled during his first year in a Rossoneri shirt, but he has become a different player after his permanent move to San Siro.

He is known for his quality passes and vision, but you could tell Rino Gattuso was his idol growing up when he came face to face with Paulo Dybala in the second half.

Milan may not have as much quality as Juventus, but their motivation and desire are much bigger than the Old Lady possesses. As Juventus proved during the last decade, ambition and identity are the two main ingredients for victories. The Bianconeri seem to have lost it, while Pioli’s recipe just gets tastier.

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