Juve 1, Milan 0: Closer

I don’t know anyone who realistically expected Milan to win this one. But the performance they gave surprised even the most optimistic. Were it not for Szczesny’s incredible saves, and the skill of Dybala coming on as a sub for the goal, Milan would very likely have won this one. Which showed the fans that Milan are still not quite back in form, but they are closer.

Close, but not enough

It was clear from the beginning of the match that Milan were up to the task at hand. While the difference in quality was at times very apparent, Milan matched or perhaps even exceeded Juve’s intensity and grinta. Paqueta had a fantastic header in the top corner of the net in the 27th, for example, after Bennacer sent it out to Conti, who sent it in for the player Giampaolo deemed “too Brazilian.” It was a fantastic play, only eclipsed by Szczesny’s fantastic save. And it was certainly not the only one - shot or save. 

One of the highlights for me was watching Cuadrado matched up with Theo Hernandez. Cuadrado was filling in at right back, but I don’t know if he’s seen anyone challenge him like Hernandez. It was a perfect metaphor for the rest of the match.

An epic matchup

Also, I would like to personally welcome back Conti, who played like we remembered him before the injuries, he was brilliant tonight. Not a lot of players can say that they took the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo, nor can they boast some of his other amazing tackles. Bennacer was also brilliant, in fact, he was the only outfield player with 100% passing accuracy in the first half, according to Opta Paolo.

The dagger in the heart came when Dybala was able to trick Romagnoli with a left-footed shot that sailed past Gigio in the 77th minute. 1-0 Juventus. That one moment where the skill outshined the belief. Well, technically he did it again in stoppage time, but Gigio had our captain's back that time.  Romagnoli was otherwise fantastic, though. Once again, Milan stepped up instead of crumbling after conceding, with even more shots. Perhaps it should be called "The Pioli Effect." Certainly, it is refreshing.

So many great performances

In fact, Milan matched Juve shot for shot, with 13 shots each. Only Milan had seven massive shots on target, and Juve only had five on target. This was so heartening, considering our shooting and accuracy has been our biggest weakness this season. So much progress, and when it counted most. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough.

Perhaps the worst part of this match was that amongst the five yellow cards Milan earned, Bennacer and Calhanoglu will miss the Napoli match because of card accumulation. While discipline has vastly improved under Pioli, their cards earned started before Pioli, and will see both of them miss a really crucial match now.

It took him five games to cleanup Giampaolo's three months, but it finally showed

After fans and media destroying this team with words all season, this team proved that they truly are improving. A shame that it still didn’t get the three points, which many argued that Milan deserved. Especially since Milan have now slipped back down to 14th place on the table, a spot where no one who watched this match would argue that Milan deserve. After such a difficult season, Milan finally proved that they are making a comeback. Not quite enough, but closer.

This post inspired by the music of NIN’s “Closer”

Juve 1, Milan 0: Closer Juve 1, Milan 0: Closer Reviewed by Elaine on 11:41 PM Rating: 5
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