Thursday, May 23, 2024

Juventus 0-0 AC Milan: Talking points as Italy’s biggest game ends goalless

Veselin Trajkovic in Editorial, Serie A 28 Apr 2024

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Competing for the runners-up finish in the Serie A rankings this season, Juventus and AC Milan shared the points in a goalless draw played at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on Saturday.

Juventus rue wasted chances

Juventus narrowly dominated possession with 51% in the contest, but the rest of the stats went more distinctly in their favour. That, along with the fact that the draw plays into Milan’s hands in terms of the race to finish directly below Scudetto winners Inter, is the reason why Massimiliano Allegri and his men shouldn’t be happy with the final scoreline.

It was a lively contest, with the ball moving quickly and neither team sitting back to just defend, but the Bianconeri created more more opportunities which they failed to make count. They took a total of 18 shots, hitting the target on seven occasions and forcing Milan goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, who only stood between the posts because Mike Maignan got injured in the warm-up, into some top-class saves. On several other occasions, wrong decisions in the final third proved costly. As for Milan, they had a total of nine attempts, but Wojciech Szczesny had no need to make a save all game.

The first real chance for Juventus came in the dying seconds of the first half, when Dusan Vlahovic fired a free-kick from just over 20 yards into the far bottom corner, and the ball bounced awkwardly for Sportiello who just managed to divert it around the post. The corner that followed caused a scramble in the Milan box which ended with Kenan Yildiz hitting a volley off the ground, prompting another difficult save from Sportiello, though the goal would not have stood anyway because the linesman had raised his flag for an offside in the buildup to the shot.

But a great chance for the home side came in the 50th minute, when Filip Kostic surprised everyone by shooting from wide left into the near bottom corner. Sportiello made another fantastic save, and then an even better one as Danilo tried to take advantage of the rebound from close range.

Milan had their closest attempt through Ruben Loftus-Cheek 16 minutes later, as the former Chelsea midfielder tried to build on some nice work by Rafael Leao by firing from distance, beating Szczesny but missing the post by an inch or two.

Substitutes Federico Chiesa and Arkadiusz Milik combined nicely in the 73rd minute, when the former Fiorentina winger whipped in a pin-point cross from the left to find Milik’s forehead and the ex-Napoli striker headed nicely on target, but Sportiello showed again he was not to be beaten in this match. Five minutes from time, Juventus came close again as Chiesa displayed some fine dribbling skill on the left and sent a cross to the far post, finding the head of fellow substitute Weston McKennie this time. Sportiello made another good save but this time he failed to keep hold of the ball, and in the ensuing scramble, and neither Milik nor Adrien Rabiot managed to put it in the net, mostly due to Malick Thiaw standing on the goal-line to make a last-gasp clearance. The corner that followed provided another masterpiece delivery from Chiesa for Milik, but Milik’s header went wide this time.

Chiesa’s impact

Despite coming on only for the final third of the match, Chiesa managed to create six chances from his team, having replaced Kostic on the left flank. His pace, trickery and perfectly weighed deliveries caused constant worries for the makeshift Milan defence, and only luck, a tiny lack of focus from Milik and the top-class performance of the Milan goalkeeper stood in his way. Games like this one make you wonder just how good the Italy international could’ve been had it not been for the ACL tear which kept him out of action for nine months in 2022.

At the age of 26, Chiesa remains an attractive prospect for a number of top clubs across Europe as he enters the final year of contract this summer, but Juventus are reportedly very keen on securing his services for the foreseeable future and they’ve prepared an offer of a new, lucrative deal to see him remain at the Allianz Stadium.

Sportiello delivers

Despite the obvious impact Chiesa made on the game, the best individual performance indisputably came from Marco Sportiello.

It was probably seen as a serious blow for the Rossoneri when it became clear that Maignan, considered widely as a top goalkeeper, got injured in the warm-up, but his understudy certainly stood up and delivered big-time when his team needed him. The 31-year-old made six saves, but the number doesn’t do him justice – all of them were extremely difficult, and it’s fair to say that he was the main factor why Milan left Turin with a point in their bag.

Sportiello has three years left on his contract, and despite his proven quality, there’s very little chance of him displacing Maignan as the first choice between the posts for the seven-time European champions. It remains to be seen if he accepts being a backup to the brilliant Frenchman for long, or if he asks to leave the club in the near future to secure regular game-time elsewhere.

Table rankings

It’s obviously as-you-were in the race between Juventus and Milan to finish second in the Serie A standings after this game. With the title gone to Inter, the financial reward for finishing second is arguably marginally bigger than for finishing third, and neither team will feel too bothered if they achieve Champions League qualification, which seems pretty likely for both at the moment.

Juventus have three points over Bologna in fourth place and five over AS Roma in fifth, and as long as their form doesn’t dwindle completely over the remaining four matches, they shouldn’t have problems on that front. It goes even more for Milan, whose 12-point advantage over Roma offers plenty of insurance.

Both teams will now look to their upcoming matches, as Milan host Genoa at San Siro and Juventus travel to face Roma at the Olimpico in what should be another crucial match for the Bianconeri next week.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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