With Milan and Juventus set to clash for yet another chapter in their rivalry this evening, it’s worth reflecting on the years past where we’ve begun witnessing the intensity of this tie ramped up to levels somewhat reminiscent of the past, when calcio ruled the world.
Since the 2010-11 season which saw the Rossoneri win their 18th Scudetto, the Italian top-flight’s throne has been overtaken and assumed with dominance by Turin giants Juventus, who’ve stuck their flag at the top for six straight seasons.
Aside from the fact the Bianconeri’s current reign has seldom been tested over the last half-dozen years, especially with Milan’s fall from grace, Italy has yearned to see the two powerhouses not only bring Serie A back to the summit of football, but also re-establish a rivalry that, when at its finest, is one tough act to follow.
Whether it be Andrea Pirlo’s departure from Milan in 2012 on a free transfer, or most recently Leonardo Bonucci’s controversial €42m move away from The Old Lady, these two sides – and their fanbases – simply do not take kindly to one another.
Up until last year, Juventus had Milan’s number, taking complete control by flexing their muscles on the pitch, and had the names to do it. However, their firm stance seems to have softened as Vincenzo Montella’s side, despite being devoid of many high calibre figures, played fearlessly and with a distinct level of fight that we have sparingly witnessed years prior.
On four drama-packed occasions last season between league and cup play, it felt like the rivalry of old. Last October at San Siro, it was the efforts of budding youngsters Gianluigi Donnarumma and Manuel Locatelli who stole the show in victory over their counterparts. Months later, Milan lifted the Italian Super Cup in Doha in a stunning penalty shootout.
In the return tie at Juventus Stadium, Max Allegri’s men came away with two tightly-contested 2-1 victories in the Coppa Italia Quarter-Final and Serie A. If anyone wanted to wind down the increasingly bitter rivalry between these sides, Paulo Dybala converting a contentious 97th-minute penalty to win it was not the best course of action. Gigio Donnarumma ranted “it’s always them” at the final whistle and kissed the Milan badge on his jersey, sending a clear message that it’d be a long while before he was replacing Gigi Buffon, at least at club level.
Before that, it was a Milan-Juventus in 2012 that prompted the introduction of goal-line technology in Serie A. Buffon scooped Sulley Muntari’s header off the line in what was eventually a 1-1 draw, only replays showed the ball had clearly crossed over.
The two sides split the contests last season, giving us reason to believe that with Milan’s summer splurge, we could soon see this rivalry back as one of European football’s most competitive duels and no longer just going over past exploits.
With Bonucci banned for the first meeting since his summer exit after picking up a red card versus Genoa last weekend, his absence throws a slight wrench into the match, as reuniting would have surely made for some drama.
Rest assured, however, this meeting at a sold out San Siro will undoubtedly be worth tuning in for as the Rossoneri (currently in eighth) aim to continue building momentum back into the top four conversation, while Juventus (fourth) look to spoil their return home by winning and keeping the pressure on those above in the table.
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