Juventus 2, Milan 0: Shellshocked

As much as I had hoped things would turn our way, it really was far fetched to think we would come out of Juve’s shiny new stadium with 3 points. Carrying double digit injuries, playing in Champions League, and not really even being able to find our footing so far this season, we seemed a bit shellshocked tonight.

Ibra so wanted to score against his former club...

I think I began to truly doubt when I heard Abate would not play. Our rock solid defense has appeared a bit more like magma at many times already this season. With only our two center backs as starters on defense, I knew we would be exposed. But we had a decent starting lineup otherwise. So how we played still came as a bit of a surprise to me.

The first half was largely uneventful for Milan, unless you look at foul count. And I’m not talking about the ones the ref called, either. In the 2nd minute, Ibra fouled Vidal. In the 13th was a savory one where Nesta pulled Chiellini to the ground reminiscent of  Maldini’s parent-like shirt grab a few years back. In the 17th Zambrotta tackled Lichtsteiner, who was lucky not to leave the match in a body bag for all of the abuse he took the rest of the match. But the big surprise was Nesta’s 2-footed challenge on Marchisio that did not see yellow (wipes brow here.) And in the 39th Boateng received a yellow for his elbow on Lichtsteiner.

The other half of the story was all of the possession for Juve and all of the shots that they took in the first half, too. Abbiati was a busy boy. The most impressive shot was in the 36th, Pirlo put the ball forward to Vucinic, who was unlucky to have both Abbiati and the crossbar helping to keep it out. (wipes brow again.) In fact, looking at my notes, it is almost all Milan fouls and Juve shots and Abbiati saves for the first half. The rest of the Milan squad seemed like little kids lost in the pretty new stadium, there was no urgency at all in their play. In fact, it seemed as if they were playing on a pitch twice the size of the one the Juve players were playing on. Maybe it was just the 12th man, that stadium is LOUD.

All the heroics in the world, and the score will only show the ones you missed.

But Allegri did seem to smack them around a bit at the half, as they came out with a little more urgency, better passing, and definitely more possession. In fact, in the 51st Cassano crossed it to Boateng who had probably the best Milan chance of the game, but was kept out by a fingertip save by Buffon. In the 52nd, Nesta had a clear tackle on Vucinic that earned him a yellow card. He was lucky it wasn’t his second.

In the 54th, Conte took Krasic out for Giaccherini, then in the 61st, Allegri pulled an exhausted Cassano out for fresh legs Emanuelsoon. In the meantime, Abbiati was carrying the team on his sweet bald head with save after save, including some massively fearless runs straight at the attackers. I love that man. In the 63rd, our old friend Pirlo had a surprising foul on Urby, which earned him a yellow card. Right after that, Thiago Silva apparently tried to take Nesta out by kicking the ball point blank at his head. Something tells me he won’t live that down for a while.

Damn. So this is how it feels to lose? This sucks.

What was a very slow and frustrating first half was starting to build, and it felt like my stomach was trying to earn a knot-tying merit badge or something. In the 69th, old Bonehead Bonera actually schooled Giaccherini, which I hoped was a good sign. I mean how often does Bonera do anything right? But in the 71st, Nesta was taken off before anyone else on our team could hurt him, and Antonini came on. Which meant that Bonera moved to the center. (insert horror movie music here.)

Juve were still taking shots like a teenage boy trying to win the girl by winning her a prize at the carnival. In the 78th, Chiellini & Boateng collided, Chiellini having gotten to the ball first and Boateng’s knee having gotten to Chiellini’s abdomen first, amongst other things. In the 83rd, Nocerino came off for the return of our captain, Ambrosini, although with our back up against the wall, I should have liked to have seen Super Pippo come on to try to make something happen.

Shame. Nesta would have cleared that.

As it was, Juve had a great back and forth: Marchisio to Vucinic, back to Marchisio, to Vidal, back to... Bonera? Yes, Bonera tried to clear that thing, and it was nearly an own goal, even if Marchisio got in the way and tapped it in. So technically, it was a Marchisio goal with a Bonera assist. /facepalm 1-0 Juve.

Immediately thereafter, Conte pulled Vucinic off, who must have had 12-14 of Juve’s shots, and Matri came on. Then Boateng fouled Chiellini again, this time having put his hand up in the air to either handle the ball or to elbow Chiellini’s face. He may have done both. But Chiellini was on the ground seeing red (bleeding) while the ref showed Boateng his second yellow and subsequent red. I guess he needed another game off? Either way, he certainly earned one. (sigh.)

Its red for blood, Prince. Enjoy your 1 match vacation.

So with extra stoppage time and being energized by Marchisio’s goal, Juve maximized their chances  in the 90th +3. Marchisio let a screamer loose, and Abbiati with a rare blunder, let it slip through his fingers and his legs for the goal. 2-0 Juve. Pazienza was impatient to come on for Vidal in the 90th +4, but this was clearly just a timewasting tactic. Although Vidal deserved some recognition for his game, he was all over that pitch.

Sometimes the stats do a game justice, sometimes not. Juve supposedly had 56% possession, which may be true, but in the first half it felt more like 86% possession. They also had 20 shots, 7 on goal, to Milan’s 4 shots, 1 on goal. They definitely deserved to win this one.

So why can’t we pull it off? We had problems connecting our midfield to our forwards last year, but this year, it’s as if there’s a moat between them. Today reminded me of something we had last year that we don’t have this year: Pirlo. That man could get the ball from anywhere to anyone like no other player around. But he’s gone, we have to find a way to work with what we have. And with so many injuries, that makes it even harder to play with any consistency.

The hardest part about winning a title is defending it, and we seem to be struggling quite well with that right now. But I do believe we can do it, we just can’t afford too many more points dropped. We’ve had a very tough schedule in the league thus far, the injuries, playing Champions League, etc. But to win this year, and especially if we are to make a good showing in said Champions League like we want to, we need to get used to playing every three days and having a hospital ward full of injuries.

Every member of our team needs to step up and be accountable. Every member of our team has to have heart, and every member of our team has to give 110% every match. There are no more chances to waste, no more time to feel sorry for ourselves, no more coming out for a full first half playing as if you are shellshocked.

We gave 3 points to one of our biggest rivals tonight, and were outplayed for 90 minutes + stoppage time. They are now in 1st, we are 15th. That’s enough humiliation for me. Let’s recharge on the International Break and come back and terrorize teams big and small and remind them of how we got that Scudetto patch we wear. It wasn’t a fluke, we are champions. And we will be again. (I think.)

This post inspired by the music of U2’s “War” album.
Juventus 2, Milan 0: Shellshocked Juventus 2, Milan 0: Shellshocked Reviewed by Elaine on 3:12 PM Rating: 5
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