Sunday April 1 2018
Bianconeri bench decisive again

Once again, Juventus strength in depth proved the difference from both impressive Milan and tiring Napoli, writes Emmet Gates.

It was billed as a potential banana skin for Juventus, a match against a Milan side that hadn’t lost in Serie A since before Christmas, and won eight of their last 10 matches. The game was given further significance when Napoli stuttered away to a Sassuolo side that had accrued seven points from their last 30 earlier in the evening. A Bianconeri victory could stretch their marginal two-point lead. And win they did.

The scoreline somewhat flattered the reigning champions, as for large portions of this match Milan were the better side. As we have seen so many times during this era of Juve dominance, the game was won from the bench. Max Allegri making pivotal changes that would alter the course of the match, his opposite number Rino Gattuso didn’t, and it would come back to bite him.

Following Paulo Dybala’s 18th goal of the season, Milan forced their way back into the game, and worked the better openings. You have to admire the confidence that Gattuso has instilled in Hakan Calhanoglu in recent months. After going through an arduous settling in period under Vincenzo Montella, the Turkey international has produced some sparkling displays since the turn of the year.

Indeed, Andre Silva, another maligned big summer signing, really should’ve equalised from Calhanoglu’s marvelously inviting cross in the 15th minute, but the Portuguese striker, who had nipped behind Blaise Matuidi, couldn’t direct his header towards goal and instead hit the side netting. It would prove costly.

And then, it had to be him, didn’t it? Of all the people to score the Milan equaliser, it had to be the six-time champion, former member of the BBC, on his first appearance back. Leonardo Bonucci ironically stealing a march on both Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli to head home from Calhanoglu’s fine delivery, it was a familiar sight to Juve fans, as was the celebration, albeit one that felt quite peculiar in Rossoneri colours.

Bonucci was quizzed on why he celebrated against the club that transformed him from a promising but error prone defender into one of the finest in the world, to which the defender retorted that he only did so due to the less than appreciative reception he received from the Juve fans.

How different the game could’ve been just after half time had Calhanoglu’s rasping long range shot cannoned into the net rather than back into play. For the game was swinging in Juve’s favour. Allegri had brought on Douglas Costa at half time, replacing Stephan Lichtsteiner, and the Brazilian’s footwork, difficult to defend against at the best of times, was troubling Milan.

Douglas Costa was involved in Juve’s second, dancing away from Davide Calabria on the left hand side, the winger fed a pass to Sami Khedira, who delivered a textbook cross for Juan Cuadrado to score in his first appearance of the year.

Khedira has incurred the wrath of Juve fans as of late, with many arguing his effectiveness during games, yet this, and his eventual goal, was a reminder that while he can disappear for chunks – quite large chunks it must be admitted – of games, he has that unnerving quality of popping up with something crucial when it matters most. He’s like the midfield equivalent of David Trezeguet.

Milan and Gattuso will take heart from this performance, as they troubled Juve, and with the Derby della Madonnina, or the Derby della China as it has now jokingly been referred to, on Wednesday, they’ll be quietly confident of exacting revenge for the 3-2 loss in October.

The Old Lady meanwhile demonstrated the scale of depth that sits on her bench. With Real Madrid on their minds, Allegri rotated massively, yet was able to call upon Douglas Costa, Cuadrado and Rodrigo Bentancur to change the game - over €80m worth of talent.

Rotation is the key word as we enter the business end of the season. Napoli have played two fewer games during the course of this campaign, yet their starting XI have amassed some 7,000 more minutes of playing time compared to the champions. As the weeks roll on, it becomes evident that they simply lack the legs to keep up with the relentless Juve machine.

And yet, you get the feeling that the twists and turns of the season haven’t finished.

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Have your say...
Yes, clearly Juventus has a FORMIDABLE SQUAD.

on the 5th April, 2018 at 6:19pm
@ NOT Maldini's nose hair

"engaging in childish name calling"

Really? You need to review your definition of name calling, because that was just meant to be a humorous play on words that I didn't think anyone would get offended by it...

As for Higuain, now it's "Real didn't fight to keep Higuain".. He already played there for 7 seasons.. Whatever, you can twist the argument again anyway you like. I'm done with that point.

We all know the sad reality of Italian football, no news there. That doesn't take away from Juve's achievements.

"And it’s that reality that sees the Azzurri struggle while Juve fans slap themselves on the back for yet another title. "

So much bitterness in that statement. Do you want Juve fans to weep then? Should we not celebrate because of the failures of the FIGC and the whole Italian system?

It's clear what you're alluding to despite your attempts to appear neutral.

Yeah, Juve fans will continue to "slap themselves on the back for yet another title"... Yep, just as the 2 Milan clubs should slap themselves in the face for such horrendous club management.
on the 4th April, 2018 at 2:29am
What maldini's heir really meant to say was milan are a team of rejects.
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 1:33pm
Top notch profiling by Ravanelli on the delirious Maldini's Heir. OTT Hahahahahahahahahahaha And I quote: " Your problem is that you have a couple of valid points that are always surrounded by a sea of nonsense. " 
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 10:50am
Even first half, Milan maybe slightly edged it. Difference was the quality of the bench. Montolivio and Kallinic... hardly game changers vs Douglas Costa and Cuardrado. Milan also couldn't cope when Juve changed the shape. I think Milan gave a good account of themselves but still well behind Juve and have a long way to go to compete
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 10:07am
@ Ravanelli And you lose credibility by engaging in childish name calling (actually you probably gain credibility around here which doesn’t say a lot for the place). My bad Higuaín did start games for Real, but they didn’t exactly fight to keep him. Serie A and juve is now a place for rejects from other leagues, that is the sad reality we are facing. And it’s that reality that sees the Azzurri struggle while Juve fans slap themselves on the back for yet another title.
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 9:25am
In this ranking by " THE GUARDIAN " :

Football World's top 100 footballers 2017
The 100 best footballers in the world 2017
Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017.

JUVENTUS HAS no less than 7 ( SEVEN ) players
plus 3 very recent ex-players.

TOP, TOP, TOP but really TOP squad!!!

on the 3rd April, 2018 at 4:39am
@ Maldini's nose hair

"Higuain was never a starter for Real"

Yes. Yes, he was. What on earth are you talking about?

08/09: 31 starts out of 38
09/10: 28 starts out of 38
10/11: 18 starts out of 38
11/12: 19 starts out of 38

He even scored more than Ronaldo and Benzema in a couple of seasons.

Do you just pull those arguments out of your behind or what?

And Dybala has achieved as much as humanly possible. He kicked Barca out of the CL. Helped Juve win Scudetti. Helped Juve get to the CL final which we lost against a much better team. What exactly do you want him to do?

As for Chiellini not advancing in the WC, the same can be said about many legends...

Chiellini is the best classic Italian defender in the last decade. They can't be all Cannavaros and Maldinis.

Your problem is that you have a couple of valid points that are always surrounded by a sea of nonsense.
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 3:33am
@ PrimoCalcio Higuain was never a starter for Real and only became a regular when he moved to Serie A. Dybala may one day be a great player but so far he's achieved nothing (except win domestic titles with an already dominant side). Costa was sold by Bayern because he was surplus to requirements. Pjanic is a personal favourite. Chiellini has been part of an Italy side that's failed to get out of two World Cup groups and now just failed to qualify. Not a high point in Italian defending.
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 12:07am
squad for the Milan squad and those same players would not perform at the same level for Milan. That is the secret. Milan will not beat Juve on the transfer market. They will only beat Juve by getting everything right off the pitch. The main reason Juve beat Milan was they had superior fitness levels. They also had the belief that they will win. Gattuso has made a massive difference for Milan. We need to build on that. Sure add a few world class players but the main difference is the set up
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 12:03am
@ Ali My main point is that Juve, as a team, are greater than the sum of its parts. And here we see the familiar response that for Milan and Inter to compete (with a fairly average side) they must go out and spend billions. The last thing the Milan sides need to do is make yet more changes to their sides. It is the instability at the Milan clubs caused by constant chopping and changing compared with the tranquility and consistency at Juve that is the big difference.You could swap the entire Juve
on the 3rd April, 2018 at 12:00am
This years team is pretty old and unimpressive. But during this run that Juve has been dominating we've had some top players. Teves, Vidal, Pogba, Dani Alves. And a younger Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli, who were pretty good at their prime. Maybe not at Cannavaro/Thuram level but these days you don't get much better than those three. I worry about this years Juve though, they might get trashed. There too old in all the wrong places.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 11:02pm

JUVENTUS - Milan = 3-1

which means:


Milan = losers
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 10:49pm
According to the rankings Juventus is in the TOP 5 sides in the World.


By reflection Juventus truly, really, totally has a FORMIDABLE SQUAD

on the 2nd April, 2018 at 10:34pm
I'm sorry, but Juve (not a spectacular side) DO have world class players and champions.
Higuain - top striker for last 10yrs in Madrid, Napoli, Juve
Dybala - Magician, coveted by Madrid for over 100m
Costa - Maybe not world class but a difference maker for Juve/Bayern
Pjanic - Maybe not world class but top creative midfielder, possibly the best from set pieces
Sandro - A top modern fullback, coveted by Europe's elite
Chiellini - Best man-marker in modern football. Italy's best CB post-2006
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 8:34pm
I also think that Rez is right, it has not been an easy ride for Juve to win these 6 titles. Almost all seasons have been very challenging. To me the big problem is that as long as the other Italian clubs don't manage to up their game (don't ask me how, I have no clue), Juve will not need to up theirs any further. Either the Milan clubs have to splash super-big on the market for several years, or Juve's dominance will continue for some time.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 6:58pm
@Maldinis Heir. I must admit that I read your first comment as one that was put forward by someone trying to discredit the opponent's success, rather than simply communicating the fact that the team is not absolute top level. Although I disagree with you regarding Juve's current team being average, they do not stand out as being world class either. This is really a problem for Serie A, not being able to offer neither contracts nor football environments that can lure the absolute best to Italy.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 6:52pm
@ Rez True Juve have been pushed by certain teams during their run of a record 6 back to back titles. However, they've broken points records, gone on unbeaten runs and generally dominated. Teams like Roma and Napoli have tried to keep up but have fallen away. Meanwhile the Milan teams have been a farce. It's a bad state of affairs. Higuain does well in Serie A but not in big Champions League or internationals. And Serie A, while tactical, no longer attracts the best players. We have problems.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 11:27am
Serie A? You should be ashamed. That an average Juve side has dominated now for the last 8 years.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 8:11am
Dybala. Really, Dybala? I really don't mean to criticise or come across as a sore loser. Juve are actually my inspiration. I've been saying for years that you don't need world class players to win titles, you just need a team. And Juve are the perfect case in point. You can't buy Juve's success. That's been forged over a decade of gradually building a winning machine. If Milan are ever to return to the top, they need to copy Juve. Fair play to Juve fans. You should be proud. As for the rest of
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 8:10am
@ Offended Juve fans. I did say they're a record breaking side. I did say they've been to two Champions League finals. My only issue is that they're possibly the "Most Average Unbelievably Successful Team of All Time". Other than Buffon, which current player would make Capello's Juve side? Benatia/Chiellini/Barzagli v Cannavaro/Thuram? Pjanic/Matuidi v Vieira/Emerson. Dybala/Trezeguet v Del Piero/Trezeguet? Look round Europe; PSG have Neymar, Real have Ronaldo, Barca have Messi..and Juve have
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 8:05am
@Maldinis: Also maybe it's time for people to stop with the Higuain Cliche... He has actually been an ABSOLUTE match deciding player in practically every single important game of the season so far. Every big match Juventus have played he has either scored, assisted others or minimum put in an almost perfect performance.This team might not be as glamorous as the pre calciopoli Juventus or that of the 90s, but is full of champions who will be remembered for ever for what they have achieved.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 7:39am
@Maldinis: I'm not sure what you're ranting about. In the past 7 seasons, at least 3 have been closely fought for over 35 weeks. From a Roma with 90+ points losing to a record breaking Juventus side, to a miraculous come back by Juve in the following year, to this year's Napoli challenge up to this point in the seas. Seria A is not as action packed as other European top leagues. However NOT ACCORDING TO ME BUT MANY PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS, is arguably the most tactical and challenging league. (P1)
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 7:30am
I don't get why some of you are mad at what Maldinis Heir said, coz if anything, he actually complimented Juventus.

Individually, Juventus players are not those who strike fear to their opponents. Matter of fact, not even Juventini themselves are that confident with (yours truly included). However, as unit they're all something else entirely. So much that Juventus to Serie A is like Bayern to Bundesliga.

I suggest you to reread what he said.
on the 2nd April, 2018 at 12:32am
I told you.
And again and again and again.

on the 1st April, 2018 at 11:19pm
Yes, squad depth is important. We all know that.. Well except for a few who are constantly being proven wrong.

@Maldini's nose hair

Chiellini is so so? Dybala not world class? Higuain has proved that myth wrong anyway.

Not a single great player? Really?

You sound like a bitter loser.

And didn't you write an essay about how squad rotation is a myth, when Napoli was on top? What do you have to say now that Napoli embarrassingly kicked themselves out of Europe only to lose the lead to Juve.

Juve is not average nor boring, your boring drivel is.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 7:48pm
The Juve & Arsenal games showed the limitations of the Milan squad.I think the plan for the transfer market is clear.Priority In: A top left-winger,a young offensive midfielder,a cover for Kessie,a left-back.Priority Out:Kalinic,Montolivo,Abate.Likely Out:Antonelli,Mauri,Gomez.A striker like Belotti would be nice but not a priority since Cutrone & Silva will only improve & there's a chance Bacca may come back which would offer some depth.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 7:26pm
All teams eventually lose or go through a dry spell. It happened to Milan and Juve in the 90’s. Even the mighty Barcelona and Real Madrid have had this happen to them. Juve’s cycle will soon end again.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 6:28pm
@Maldini whatever . Hahaahhaha if the juventus team is average what does that make milan? I also agree with Ali that your commemts are a long giant load of poop.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 3:51pm
...bring back Pogba,and Immobile for a season or two, along with Locatelli,Martial and this Juve could only get stronger faster better. They surely have the €€.keep the fire burning.
on the 1st April, 2018 at 2:38pm

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