Serie A Match of the Round – Juventus vs Milan


Few tilts were high-scoring and intense up until the final whistle in this round and Juventus-Milan was the most meaningful one out of the bunch. The Bianconeri came into the game looking to get closer or possibly clinch the title with an advantageous combination of results that would have to start with a win, while the Devil were seeking to rebound after three unsatisfactory results, as they had recently lost to Sampdoria and Inter and tied with Udinese.

The Old Lady recuperated and started both Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic, but opted to rest Giorgio Chiellini and Miralem Pjanic. So they marshaled a pretty weird XI with Alex Sandro as left centre-back in a three-man defense, Mattia De Sciglio and Leonardo Spinazzola as wing-backs and Federico Bernardeschi as box-to-box. Gennaro Gattuso deployed the returning Suso and Franck Kessie, moved Hakan Calhanoglu to the midfield to replace Lucas Paqueta and picked Fabio Borini to complete the trident.

The contest blew up right away and was livelier than how this type of fixtures usually are. Suso found Krzysztof Piatek for a dangerous header after 63 seconds, but he put in wide. Emre Can twisted his ankle on a tackle and was replaced by Sami Khedira. The guests had a vehement start and were denied a penalty on what looked like a clear handball by Alex Sandro, however they broke through a couple of minutes later. Leonardo Bonucci misplaced a pass for Rodrigo Bentancur in front the defense, Tiemoue Bakayoko pickpocketed it and set up Piatek, who made no mistake in front of Wojciech Szczesny for his 21st goal of the season.

The reaction of the Madama was limited, but it included a stunning bicycle kick by Mandzukic that was barely tipped away by Pepe Reina, who deputized on goal for the injured Gianluigi Donnarumma. The guests kept pushing in the second half too and Piatek forced Szczesny into a solid save with an attempt from distance and Fabio Borini and Hakan Calhanoglu hit the side netting, the first one after waltzing past a defender on the left portion of the box, the other with a free kick.

However, the locals struck pretty much out of the blue, as Bonucci found Dybala that had slipped past the back-line with a timely through ball and La Joya was brought down in the box by Mateo Musacchio. The Argentinian no.10 drilled the penalty. Juventus intensified their pressure, especially after both Moise Kean and Pjanic were inserted, and came close to scoring with Alex Sandro and Kean on corner kicks.

The two subs combined for the game-winning goal at the 84th minute: Pjanic intercepted a pass by Davide Calabria deep into enemy territory, charged the box and then slid it to Kean, who burned Reina that was coming out with a cross-shot. Hakan Calhanoglu tried to knot the match up with a pair of last-ditch efforts, but the first one was blocked by the defenders and the second cradled by Szczesny.

Napoli were held to a tie on Sunday, so Juventus need one more point to secure the eighth Scudetto in a row. Milan were caught by Atalanta in the standings, while Roma cut the disadvantage to just one point as the race for the fourth spots stays a doozy, with also Lazio lurking nearby.

In the fantasy game, the scorers Piatek, Kean and Dybala amassed four points, Pjanic and Bakayoko two for the helpers.

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