Juventus 0, Milan 0: Saved By Zero

The expectations for this match were low, given Milan's recent form and all the players and fans missing. So it's difficult to say whether or not a 0-0 draw vs. Juve met or exceeded those expectations. Certainly a clean sheet and a point against the team just below us on the table is better than losing or even drawing to a team much lower on the table. But with both managers under fire for underperforming squads, it was not exactly a match that was particularly entertaining. Sportiello had six saves, but Milan had zero shots on target at the other end. So in a strange way, Milan were saved by zero.

Epic performances.

The match was quite violent, with many of our players requiring treatment. The medics began their workout in just the fifth minute when Gatti hit Gabbia in the face while jumping up for the ball. Replays definitely make it look intentional, too, but of course, we were playing at Juventus stadium, so they did not get a single card from Mariani, the referee. Of course, Leão did offer a bit of payback by shoving Gatti in the back a few minutes later, and he was also not carded, so maybe Mariani was just not in a good place in his relationship with his cards for this one.

Zero shots on target, yet we also did not concede.

Shots were fired, mostly by Juve, but a few by Milan, too, with nearly all of them for both sides off target. Maignan had been injured in warmup, apparently a muscle strain, so our trusty second keeper got a surprise start. Sportiello's heroics began with an early save on Vlahović, but then he wasn't tested too much until stoppage time. Musah earned himself the only yellow card of the match for trying to restrain Vlahović in every way possible. From that foul, Vlahović took a free kick from the top of the box that made it through the wall, and Sportiello made a great save to keep it out.

Our emergency right back, Pioli's new Krunić.

The second half opened up with Sportiello making a miraculous double save, first on Kostić, then on Danilo, the second one with his face. The substitutions began, with Bennacer replacing Adli, who simply was not having his best match. Then Sportiello made a great save, but Yildiz fell on his head as he was making the save, and our goalkeeper required some treatment. Sportiello was immense, definitely my Man of the Match for this one.

Sportiello was a surprise on so many levels.

Probably the closest we came to scoring was in the 66th minute when Loftus-Cheek's shot seemed to literally graze the outside of the post, it was so painfully close. Loftus-Cheek had a solid game, making some important recoveries and tackles. The next player to require treatment was Giroud, who was downed by Bremer, who gave him a few jabs with his knee in the 69th minute. The Milan striker was visibly in a lot of pain, and after some treatment was subbed off for Okafor. After Maignan, Giroud was our second new injury of the night.

Loftus-Cheek played an important part in the match, but then went down with an injury.

Allegri's subs were testing Milan's makeshift defense of Musah, Gabbia, Thiaw, and Florenzi more clinically as the second half continued. Sportiello made his fifth save of the match on Milik in the 73rd minute. In the 83rd, Pioli brought on some of the Primavera players, which was thoughtful of him, since Abate's team had lost their match earlier in the day due to his strongest players being called up for the first team. Zeroli, Bartesaghi and also Chukwueze replaced Loftus-Cheek, Musah, and Pulisic respectively. Loftus-Cheek had gone down off the ball, reportedly an ankle issue. That made three new injuries in this match.

A split second clearance after a heroic Sportiello save. Amazing.

The 86th minute was one of the highlights of the match. Sportiello saved a McKennie header, and Rabiot was there to tap it in, but Thiaw made a massive goal line clearance. On a night when we needed him most, pre-injury Thiaw showed up with an impeccable performance. He and Sportiello both were just epic, actually. For a match that offered virtually nothing offensively, these guys turned up with one of the defensive performances of the season and kept a clean sheet despite Juve's 18 shots. Sportiello had six saves, and with Thiaw's clearance, Juventus' seven shots on target were all thwarted.

Boring match? Not for Thiaw.

Milan fans, true to their style, have completely moved on from Pioli, regardless of the remaining games this season or the year left on his contract. Since the Derby defeat on Monday, all the media and fans on social media have been talking about is who will be replacing him. Reports leaked to the media from management that Lopetegui was close to being chosen as Pioli's successor infuriated Milan fans, with the Curva Sud making a statement, fans at the match making statements, a viral hashtag on social media, and more. This led Furlani to make a very lame statement postmatch saying Pioli was still our manager, while transfer rumors suggested that the club might be rethinking their choice of managers based on such a harsh fan response.

Pioli completely discounted by Milan fans, while Juve fans realize they may not get better than Allegri.

In contrast, during the match, some of the Juve fans actually chanted in support of him. Postmatch, their Ultras also held up a banner begging Allegri to stay. Strange to think the clubs might actually take the fans' positions on their managers into consideration. Especially when Milan's Curva Sud boycotted this match, it seems odd that they would still have so much influence. But it was also strange that all of this gossip about the managers was far more interesting than the second and third place teams playing what used to be a big fixture. 

Giroud man-handled and double-teamed, now injured.

Hopefully, Milan's new injuries are just minor things that won't keep the players out for any length of time. We certainly have had more than our share of injuries this season already. But a clean sheet and a point honestly were more than I expected from this match. And even if we had zero shots on target, we were saved by a fantastic defensive performance from our center backs and a goalkeeping master class.

This post inspired by the music of The Fixx's "Saved By Zero"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 35
Milan vs. Genoa
Sunday, May 5, 2024 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)

Juventus 0, Milan 0: Saved By Zero Juventus 0, Milan 0: Saved By Zero Reviewed by Elaine on 9:00 PM Rating: 5
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