Milan derby and imperfect Juve No ratings yet.

Inter vs AC Milan was the match of the weekend. The Milan derby attracted all the interest and on the Penisula. Only Genoa’s point in Turin got some attention beside the derby della Madonnina.

Milan derby

The promise was great! Both giants from Milano were going thru a positive patch with the rossoneri winning three games on the trot, scoring 10 goal on the way, and the neroazzurri already forgot when the last defeat occurred. Or even a draw for that matter.

The general idea in the Italian media was that AC Milan is actually playing better at the moment but Inter has a stronger squad. Particularly in depth.

Spirits were high on the red side of the Naviglio boosted by recent victories and the numbers of goals scored in the process. Hardly there have been better circumstances when they were expecting the city duel. Higuain is scoring, the midfield is dominating games and Donnarumma isn’t making glaring mistakes. And the defense? Or better defensive phase? Well, the ball keeps on hitting the net but as long as the attackers score more, nobody cares.

On the blue side of the city the morale is high for much longer. Even if the play isn’t particularly eye-catching the results are coming good. And that’s enough. Enough to have good atmosphere in the camp and growing confidence which is one of the corner stones for success.

Inter dominance

So, everything was ready for a hard fought battle till the last drop of blood. In the end if actually was as Inter scored the match-winning goal right at the death, deep into stoppage time. However, don’t get blinded by the way the victory came.

Inter controlled the proceedings during the whole Milan derby, setting the tempo and not allowing Milan’s most dangerous players a kick. Literally! Higuain, without doubt Milan best player, didn’t get a single useful ball the whole game. Isolated upfront didn’t stand a chance against one of Europe’s best central defensive couple; De Vrij and Škriniar.

The duo reminds me of a pair of detectives in the old movies. The Dutch is well mannered, elegant, sophisticated and good ball player. Even if behaved, getting past him is a miracle.

The other is a force of nature. Tough tackling, no-nonsense, old school defender that hits you first, than out-muscles you and than takes the ball. If you even any desire left to go for it after the treatment! And both are practically unbeatable in the air! The good cop – bad cop approach works well for now and the consequence is 6 goals conceded in 9 matches. And a few of those came with Miranda in place of one or the other.

De Vrij Škriniar

 

AC Milan shortocmings

For all on Milan’s scoring ability demonstrated the last few games only real intervention Handanovič had to make is to palm away a wayward Rodriguez cross in the second half. Suso and Calhanoglu were blocked by Inter’s side defenders and Bonaventura seemed short of inspiration and space to wave his magic.

Spaletti did his homework and annulled all of Milan’s danger. The worrying thing for Gattuso is that it seemed as if Inter didn’t even had to sweat too much!

Beside win against Roma, Milan looks out of conviction and lacking concentration in confrontations with direct opponents for high places. In other words, personality! Gattuso has plenty of it and has to find a way to transfer it to his players. And soon!

This season’s only constant for Milan is to concede and duly maintained the tradition also in this match.

92nd minute, everybody is just waiting for the referee to blow the final whistle. Or at least Milan is! Bad systematic positioning and player marking forced Romagnoli out of position to follow Vecino on the side-line. The Uruguayan whips in a cross which finds Icardi on the far post for a simple finish into an empty net.

The Inter captain and ruthless finisher, didn’t believe his eyes when the ball, after 30 meters, met his head and nobody was there at least to try to scare him off!

And the rest of Milan’s defence? Good question! My guess is that they were already in the dressing room celebrating first clean sheet of the season. Or at least headed there!

It’s being continuously repeated that AC Milan needs to work on it’s defensive phase otherwise it’s going to cost them dearly. Last night it did. And surely will again.

Inter vs Milan ended in deserved hosts victory that will be additional morale-booster for the midweek trip to Barcelona. Another stern test for the cops in Inter’s defence. Even without criminal Messi.

Juventus not perfect, yet

The bianconeri gave away first points this season. Even if this draw ended their perfect season start it’s actually a good thing in my opinion. Good for them not everybody else.

After taking the lead thru Ronaldo and holding Genoa where they wanted in the first half, Juventus already departed for Manchester. Similarly to AC Milan’s defence which left the field a few minutes before the game ended. Just that Juventus left the game at the break. The goal Genoa scored was the evidence of total loss of the very minimum concentration needed to play a Serie A match.

Credit to Genoa for exploiting what was offered but if Juve would play the game at least in the 2nd gear, the rossoblu would pack their bags without a single shot fired.

This season scoring sensation, Piatek, showed glimpses of his talents. In the first half you’d hardly notice he was on the field but in the second he came to life, albeit with help from Juve. Tested Szczesny with a shot from outside of the box and won a header in the heart of Juve’s defence that could provide much more. Little you say? Perhaps, but in those two situations he displayed his technique, timing and awareness. In a side that could provide more quality service he’ll do justice to Lewandowski’s heir tag.

As for the Juventus players it’s hard to judge since they played on autopilot for the majority of the game. However, Fabio Capello’s words might have some foundation. Which words? Well, a long time ago he said that Bonucci can’t defend! He’s a great passer but he can’t defend and many Italian fans lately agree with the statement. Also Juve fans.

This result will serve Juve as a mild warning that even if you’re a level or two above your opponent you have to stay focused until the final blow. And surely they will.

And the rest

For the rest no particular surprises. Napoli won in Udine, Lazion won in Parma and Roma lost at home to relegation-threatening SPAL. Surprise? Not this year! Roma already lost 3 games this campaign. And 2 of these loses came at home against Chievo and now SPAL. To me it looks more like a trend than a surprise.

Next weekend two fixtures stand out from the pack; Milan vs Sampdoria and Napoli vs Roma. Two wounded giants seeking for redemption in bad places.

Full results

October 20

Roma 0 – 2 SPAL

Juventus 1 – 1 Genoa

Udinese 0 – 3 Napoli

October 21

Frosinone 3 – 3 Empoli

Chievo 1 – 5 Atalanta

Bologna 2 – 2 Torino

Parma 0 – 2 Lazio

Fiorentina 1 – 1 Cagliari

Inter 1 – 0 Milan

October 22

Sampdoria 0 – 0 Sassuolo

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Juventus’ boring perfection and Piatek No ratings yet.

The down side of perfection or flawlessness is that once achieved it becomes boring and that’s what Juventus accomplished in Serie A. Prolonged period of perfection, however, leads to irritation. 

In football every club would like to be that kind of boring and even more irritating. Last more-then-a-few years, 7 to be boringly precise, Juventus has done just that. I’m not referring to their on-pitch performances, that’s also a matter of taste. But in terms of end result the Turin giants have been very, extremely boring.

And similarly to last week, no particular surprises.

Perfect Juventus

Same happened at the Dacia arena in Udine this weekend. Juventus took another routine win, Ronaldo scored another goal and their defence kept another clean sheet. Not that Udinese is the team that should present any sort of danger to the “Scudetto owners”. However, at least could make them sweat, just a little bit. On the other hand, the way this season is going, nobody else up to now did, so no reason to be surprised or angry about that.

At one point I asked myself; is Szczesny forced to pay the ticket in domestic competitions or the club takes care of that for him?

Juventus assembled a squad where everybody is important but at the same time non is indispensable. Full of talents, important names, big characters but still managing to keep them all satisfied. At least for the time being. Clear hierarchy is key to keep the locker room under control but still giving everybody the sense that they are contributing to the clubs fortunes. Allegri proved himself a master in that! With people upstairs backing him up thus making foundations on which to built your success.

Additionally the technical area seems to get everything right! In the last few years you could count on one hand the market mistakes. You think it’s easy with all the money available to splash on players of 30 and over years? Well, clubs around Italy, not to go to far, spent the same or even more and still can’t come anywhere near the bianconeri.

There you go Juventus, enjoy your boredom and all the others feed your irritation with it. At least until the fortune changes.

Other contenders

Moving on, followers and closest contenders, if they can be labelled as such, Napoli, also got their routine home win against fellow Southerners Sassuolo. Truthfully the nero-verdi made Napoli work for their win, copying their number of attempts on goal and actually retaining more possession in the end Partenopei took the 3 points. And after the equally dramatic important midweek CL win against Liverpool surely volcanic president won’t mind an under par performance if they managed to secure the result.

Internazionale is riding the high spirit wave! Performances aren’t pleasing the eyes, at all, but the smallest opponents mistake or hesitation is duly punished. And until the results will be coming nobody will care too much. Initial struggles have been forgotten and since mid September CL come back versus Tottenham they haven’t look back and can’t stop winning.

Similarly to Napoli and Inter another CL participant, Roma, took all the points against energetic and attractive but utterly wasteful and inconclusive Empoli. Same number of attempts on target, more shots off target, more possession, corners,… basically more everything except, well, quality and consequently goals. Summed up, the important things.

AC Milan

To keep things in boring perfection in terms of game anticipation also Milan managed his hat-trick of victories, including the Thursday’s come-from-behind win versus Olympiacos. Albeit Chievo this season isn’t proving much of competition to anybody this season with miserable 2 draws and 6 goals scored in 8 games. Interestingly, half of their goals came against illustrious opposition; 1 at San Siro and 2 against the leaders in the season-opener. If the Verona outfit is counting to at least put up a fight for Serie A status retention, they’ll need to drastically improve their defensive stability; only Frosinone conceded more goals and that’s not a consolation of any sort.

As for Milan also same old story; Higuain taking advantage from visitors lapses and the home side allowing opponents to score. So, again, nothing new. From Gattuso’s perspective this week’s international games came at the worst possible time! Just as the team clicked and they started a winning streak.

Piatek

To find anything at least resembling surprise we have to take a look at the which took place at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genova. The home side coming from a run of good results lost against resuscitated Parma. Even if the come back was achieved already in first half hour and Genoa had 60 minutes in which produced industrial quantity of attempts on target (10 on and 12 off) the end result didn’t change. However, this isn’t the main story.

After such an extended run of goals there’s a name worth remembering; Krzysztof Piatek. Who? Krzysztof Piatek, the leading goalscorer in Italians top division. With least games played, since Genoa hold a game in hand against AC Milan, postponed after the Morandi bridge tragedy struck, all other stars are watching the Dzierżoniów native’s writing history.

Arriving this summer under the radar for a modest price of 4,5 millions Euros, he took the Serie A by storm. While everybody was celebrating Italy’s return among the big boys with Ronaldo’s switch from Real Madrid to Juventus, the Polish striker was preparing greatest surprise of all. Being born in 1995 he’s still young but far from a spring chicken and since he had 0 appearances for his country, nobody took him seriously.

Piatek scored 9 goals in his first 7 games in Italy, hitting the net in every game. The last player to do the same is a certain Argentine named Gabriel Batistuta in the 94/95 season. If this is the benchmark then it’s no wonder that some of Europe’s elite clubs are already being reported preparing top dollar to secure the rising star.

While scouts were making notes he found time to score additional goal in Italian Cup to round it to 10 before joining the national side. I guess no words can explain his scoring abilities, so let’s see what the newcomer is capable of.

Elsewhere

Elsewhere, Torino and Lazio recorded tight but extremely important home wins, both for the seeding as for the morale.

Serie A returns next weekend with one of the most anticipated games in the season calendar. Italian fashion capital representatives will lock horns to prevail in the derby della Madonnina.

And for the leading marksman the ultimate maturity test; Juventus arena!

Can he save the Serie A from the champions’ claws?

Full results

Torino 3 – 2 Frosinone

Cagliari 2 – 0 Bologna

Udinese 0 – 2 Juventus

Empoli 0 – 2 Roma

Genoa 1 – 3 Parma

Milan 3 – 1 Chievo

Atalanta 0 – 1 Sampdoria

Lazio 1 – 0 Fiorentina

Napoli 2 – 0 Sassuolo

SPAL 1 – 2 Inter

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