Juventus and Milan took on each other in the highlight match of the Serie A round 13 on Saturday night at Juventus Arena.
The game was solved by a moment of brilliance from Juventus forward Paulo Dybala whose curling volley shot brought the maximum three points for the hosts from the emphatic clash between the two great rivals.
With little to separate Juventus and AC Milan in the first half, the crowd at Juventus Arena were awarded by not the most inspiring performances from the two sides. The home side controlled the proceedings with AC Milan earning as low as 37.5% possession, the lowest for the Rossoneri in the Serie A thus far.
The Old Lady have been awarded for their patience after 66 minutes when Alex Sandro pierced down the left side of the pitch to tee up Paulo Dybala inside the box, who managed to beat in this game once again excellent Milan goalkeeper Gainluigi Donnarumma.
The game saw Juventus overtake AC Milan at the sixth place in the standings and there is now a point difference between the two sides, who are not having the best of seasons this year.
Following the emphatic and uninspiring display tonight, some key points can be outlined.
Donnarumma the heir to Buffon’s throne
The 16-year-old Italian goalkeeper has been the surprise inclusion in the last four games he started for AC Milan. His rise to fame has been so great that Sinisa Mihajlovic was quickly applauded for his brave decision to place his faith in the hands of a youngster.
Donnarumma was eager to meet his idol Gianluigi Buffon tonight, as he realised his childhood dream of matching up with the Italian greatest. Having debuted at 16 years and eight months, Gianluigi Donnarumma became the youngest debutant keeper in the Italian top division, overtaking his idol’s record in the process.
Saturday’s fixture has been yet another confirmation of the boy’s huge talent and potential. His physical presence and mature performances have been impressive in the four games he played for AC Milan. Praised for his commanding ability, Donnarumma is the one to keep a close watch in the future.
Dybala needs more playing time
Juventus paid a hefty fee for the services of the young striker, who was expected to make an instant impact in Juventus’ squad. Lined behind Mandzukic and Morata as Allegri’s first-choice strikers, the Argentine forward was disappointed to find his playing time limited this season.
Having been handed just eight starts this season, Dybala used every chance he got to make his presence known. Massimiliano Allegri went against the public opinion, claiming that Dybala needs time to adapt to his playing style and all on the responsibilities he faces in Juventus.
“He must develop physically and improve”, Allegri claimed earlier in the season.
The 21-year-old Argentine bagged six goals in the Serie A, but his overall displays have been particularly impressive. Dybala is working hard to break into the starting berth and there is no doubt that the Saturday’s winner will leave Allegri pondering his decision making.
Kucka the king
Many were surprised to hear that AC Milan were bringing in the little known Juraj Kucka in the summer, but the quiet Slovakia star took many by surprise with his fantastic performances for AC Milan this term.
Having Paul Scholes as his role model, Kucka boasts a recognizable style of play. Hard-working midfielder is a modest performer who has been exceeding expectations throughout his career. Always up against the odds, Juraj Kucka arrived from Genoa for a €3 million fee and was seen as rather disappointing choice knowing that city rivals Inter brought AC Milan’s target Geoffrey Kondogbia for no less than €35 million.
Kucka was tonight once again in his excellent form and his opportunity on 72 minutes will be heavily rued by the visiting set of supporters. The Slovakian took the ball inside the penalty box, but his effort went slightly over the bar, much for the disappointment of Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team.
Patience with Pogba
The French rising star has suffered a dramatic dip in form this season, but Bianconeri need to show patience with one of their key players.
The 22-year-old Paul Pogba has established himself as one of the most exciting footballers in Europe since arriving from Manchester United, and has been particularly impressive last season, paired with the Italian maestro Andrea Pirlo.
With the Italian veteran gone in the summer, all of the midfield responsibilities have fallen on Pogba’s young shoulders and he is having some problems coping with high expectations.
Impressing only sporadically, Pogba had a similar performance this evening as well. However, his off ball movement was spot on, his technical ability never questioned. Always head in the game, Pogba attempted to feed his teammates past the well-organized AC Milan defence, at the same time making yards for himself attempting to pierce through the backline.
Prior to Dybala’s goal, the French midfielder had the best chance in the game, when his long-range effort to the underside of the crossbar forced a fine save from Gianluigi Donnarumma.
JUVENTUS: Buffon 6.5 – Lichtsteiner 7, Barzagli 7.5, Chiellini 7, Evra 6 (Sandro 8.5) – Pogba 7.5, Marchisio 7, Sturaro 7.5 – Hernanes 6 (Bonucci 6.5) – Dybala 8.5 (Morata 6), Mandzukic 6.5.
Unused subs: Rubinho, Zaza, Cuadrado, Neto, Rugani, Lemina, Vitale.
AC MILAN: Donnaruma 8 – Abate 6.5, Alex 6.5, Romagnoli 7, Antoneli 7 – Kucka 7 (Adriano 6), Montolivo 6.5, Bonaventura 6.5 – Cerci 7, Bacca 6.5, Niang 6(Honda 6).
Unused subs: Poli, Suso, Abbiati, Sciglio, Mexes, Calabria, Mauri, Zapata, Livieri, Nocerino.
REFFEREE: Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni
Other results this evening:
Bologna 2-2 AS Roma