Serie A Match of the Round – Milan vs Juventus


Milan-Juventus was the most anticipated match coming into the round and it did not disappoint, even though the score ended up being a little lopsided. As if there were not enough storylines already, one arose even before the start as Massimiliano Allegri elected to keep Leonardo Bonucci on the bench, sparing him a date with a very hostile environment. His replacement Medhi Benatia had a mixed performance.

The Bianconeri came into the game trying to maintain their lead over Napoli, which were victorious on Saturday, and looking to bounce back after a disappointing loss against Manchester United in Champions League. Milan had prevailed in five of their last Serie A fixtures, twice thanks to Alessio Romagnoli in the final minutes.

Gennaro Gattuso could count on the banged up Hakan Calhanoglu from the get-go, while Patrick Cutrone was initially kept on the bench with Samu Castillejo starting up front. Ignazio Abate played over Davide Calabria, who is still in imperfect conditions. Allegri was able to insert Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa in the squad list after muscular ailments, but Mario Mandzukic was the choice to complete the trident. Rodrigo Bentancur was picked over Sami Khedira in the midfield.

It did not took long for Juventus to hurt the opponent as, at the 8th minute, Alex Sandro was left with too much room to operate on the left flank, located Mario Mandzukic on the far post and found him with a long cross, which the striker headed home with ease after towering over Ricardo Rodriguez.

The Croatian centre-forward almost had an encore minutes later on a delivery by Cristiano Ronaldo, but this time Alessio Romagnoli managed to obstruct him. The Old Lady pulled the strings for the majority of the first half, but without generating clear-cut scoring opportunities. Suso tried to surprise Wojciech Szczesny from distance, but to no avail.

The game could have turned near the end of the first half when, on a quick fast-break, Gonzalo Higuain tried to get past Medhi Benatia in the box with a clever first touch, but the defender stopped the ball with his hand and the penalty was awarded after a VAR review. However, Szczesny guessed correctly on the penalty by El Pipita, which was also not angled enough, and palmed it on the post.

In the second half, Juventus had two chances to ice the game, first with a terrific lefty cross-shot by Cristiano Ronaldo, which was brilliantly saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, then with a free kick by Paulo Dybala that grazed the woodwork. The Portugal ace came close again after a quick solo counter, but again the opposing goalie managed to put his hands on his daisy-cutter.

Milan tried to attack more vigorously, especially after Patrick Cutrone came on, but, even staying in the game, they were never truly dangerous. The Bianconeri eventually finished them off with ten minutes to go, when Joao Cancelo intercepted an errant clearance by Diego Laxalt, challenged Donnarumma with a forceful strike and Ronaldo pounced on the rebound, scoring his first ever goal on open play at San Siro. To add insult to injury, Higuain was sent off shortly thereafter for a hissy fit against the referee after being booked for a questionable foul.

A good fantasy loot for Juventus, mostly thanks to the clean sheet, which gave the defenders five points and the midfielders two. Alex Sandro added two for the assist, while Ronaldo and Mandzukic racked up four for scoring. No points for any Milan player.

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