Sunday November 11 2018
Pipita's night of pain

Gonzalo Higuain's desperation to make his mark for Milan against old club Juventus was ultimately his downfall, explains Giancarlo Rinaldi.

Football can be a brutal business at times. It deals only in winners and losers with little room for shades of grey. On Sunday night at the San Siro it was Gonzalo Higuain’s turn to feel its wrath.

This was HIS game, you see. In the match build-up, everyone of a red-and-black persuasion was anxious to know if he would be ready to face his old team. The player himself was clearly keen to prove Juve made a mistake when they shuffled him out to make room for Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer. But, instead, he fell flat on his face in front of his former teammates in the most spectacular style.

Desperate to take a penalty which could have reopened the game after Milan had fallen behind to a Mario Mandzukic header, he could only watch in despair as he was thwarted by Wojciech Szczesny. In the process, he gave more material to those who call into question his character in the biggest games.

He has a trophy cabinet more than large enough to silence anyone who makes such claims, but still this latest error will sting. In truth, at this stage of his career he is probably never going to change anybody’s mind one way or another.

But if things were already going badly, they would only get worse later in the game. A goal from Ronaldo rubbed salt in his wounds and then he reacted angrily to a foul given against him on Medhi Benatia.

There is probably a debate to be had over whether the Moroccan international should still have been on the pitch - he might have picked up a second yellow card for his handball which gave away the earlier penalty - but nonetheless Higuain’s reaction seemed exaggerated. In the heat of the moment we all make mistakes, of course, but he lost his head more spectacularly than most. A red card, and ensuing angry reaction, finished off a miserable night.

It was a sort of greatest hits package of Higuain's historic weaknesses: missed penalties in big games, losing his rag when things don't go his way.

In some ways, in the long term at least, Milan should be pleased. It shows just how much he wants to do well at the club and how desperate he was to score against the Bianconeri. However, in the short-term, the Rossoneri may well have to do without him for a wee while after the inevitable suspension he picks up - and that will only make his pain even greater.

Taking a wider look at the match, it is impossible to know if converting the penalty would have turned the tide in the home team’s favour. They gave everything they could - with some key players missing - but always looked a bit short of Juve’s standards. Rino Gattuso’s men tried to play with the character and style that had dragged them back up the table, but it rarely troubled the reigning champions. There was enough to suggest the Milanese giants can stay up towards the Champions League zone in Serie A but, for now, they are still some way off a Scudetto challenge.

As for Max Allegri’s team, this was a nice tonic after their disaster against Manchester United in Europe. It took them a long time to kill off their opponents and that must still be something of a concern. What is good enough to win games in Italy is not always sufficient in continental competition and they will have to produce a bit more if they hope to secure that much-desired prize in due course.

You couldn’t rule it out, though, with a team that has this kind of quality players at its disposal and a well-established winning habit. Yet another league title looks theirs for the taking and a crack at something bigger - if they can get all the elements to click. But don’t expect Gonzalo Higuain to be watching on the telly if they do get their hands on the Champions League trophy. He is sure to have switched off quite some time ago.

Have your say...
To every Milanista who wants a (second) yellow card for Benatia: In March 2017 Juve beat Milan 2-1 with a controversial late penalty due to a De Sciglio handball. De Sciglio wasn't booked for that incident. There's no such thing as automatic booking for handball penalty kicks.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 4:47pm
Higuain didn't play well and he was tense. The pressure was too much for him. He is however our best players and we should have the conditions to make him blossom. Without Higuain we can forget about top 4.

I truly hope we can sign Conte. He made a terrible Italy squad play like world beaters. He won serie A with a weaker Juve and won the Premier League with Chelsea who weren't favorites. Conte can grind results and build a mentally strong squad! which is what we lack.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 4:43pm
@Forza Milan: Milan is going to finish between 7-10 this year. So yeah, midtable.

@Ezra: Sure, life is full of ups and downs. But Higuain acted like a jerk and now he's paying for it. It's a great lesson for kids to act always with class.

@John He was entitled to leave Napoli, but to go to a team whose fans scorned him and ridiculed him and to do so in secret while saying he was going to stay was classless. Glad to see him suffering, and I hope he doesn't play on a top team again.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 2:38pm
@ a Varsavia

'1. Being neutral I saw referees supporting Juve' - Please name the incidents.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 2:36pm
Maybe nobody speaks about those blatant mistake because there are no blatant mistakes to speak about.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 2:34pm

I support Inter dear. You sound super hypocrite because you are justifying a mistake by another mistake too. We want the league to be clean and fair for every team. If referees were favouring Inter I would have abandoned them. I hold the values of fairness and justice close to my heart, therefore I am against everybody degrades these values for personal gains.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 1:27pm
Somebody up there in Milan Hq must love Borini. First they get him on loan, then they buy him outright despite doing nothing and now he seems to be thought to be better at right back than Calabria. As for the penalty decision once given, Benatia should have been sent off. Otherwise don’t give it. That handball stopped Higuain from thru on goal not blocking a shot so in effect it denied a goal scoring opportunity. If the ref deemed it not deliberate then he shouldn’t have given a penalty.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 1:22pm
On the positive, Bakayoko's recent form has been a tremendous upturn, he was our best player last night albeit no one really had a good game. He is evidently growing in confidence every week and each week im seeing more of his Monaco self back, he looks a completely different player in a pivot than in a midfield 3. Once everyone is fit again I think 442/4231 are our best systems. These injuries leading to Cutrone having to start is really hurting us off the bench as we have no impact subs.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 12:23pm
Honestly I cant say anyone expected us to get anything from this game and being honest we kept it closer than I expected especially after Mandzu hit in the 8th minute. If Pipita nets that pen who knows maybe we snatch a point. All in all the Lazio game is the important one and if Higuain is suspended its a massive blow. Cant believe people are complaining about the goal when it was Abate and Suso v Sandro and CR7 on the left side was only ever ending badly, not exactly like Rino had many options
on the 12th November, 2018 at 12:20pm
Promes cost Sevilla 24m. There could've been others. We could've gone after Martial. But the point is we needed to go after them. Gattuso has assembled the team he wanted. And he's focused on technical players over physical players. He said before the derby that Inter were more physical and now after the Juve game. The problem of course is both teams are better technically.

Anyway I don't get all the drama. I said "Milan didn't do too bad considering". Do you disagree?
on the 12th November, 2018 at 11:29am
@ Giancarlo C's Mom For 25 years semi-professionally? Juve had a mediocre team up until about 3 years ago. The current side is finally close to the level of the 2006 side. I still believe that many Juve players would struggle in a Milan side. Actually I don't need to think that Bonucci and Higuain prove that. But, whatever, Milan finished 8 points off CL spot last season. Had we beaten Benvento and Verona we'd be in the CL.

@ Doddy Juve Milan spent 96m and have just spent 35m. Lemar cost 52m,
on the 12th November, 2018 at 11:17am
1. Being neutral I saw referees supporting Juve;
2. Compare Higuain to Copa Libertadores players behaviour last night and you are at [Argentinian] home;
3. Gonzalo didn't miss, it was Szczesny who won this duel.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 10:56am
Higuain is a league player and not so much in the CL but thats ok because Milan are not in the CL this season and will not be next season.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 10:43am
Missing penalties is part of the game but the red card is inexcusable because he hurt our chances for the next game against Lazio,a direct rival.Juve were better but Milan were in the game despite the injuries.We are much more solid in a 4-4-2.Unfortunately,there were a few key mistakes that got punished.We need a quality wide man on the left.Hakan can't play there and Samu is average.We also need a 3rd striker and a replacement for Biglia.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 10:35am
@ Hussain

And why nobody speaks about the referee's blatant mistakes in favour of Milan when corrupted Berlusconi served as prime minister of Italy? Do you know that if Milan were not owned by corrupted Berlusconi, they would be demoted to Serie B? And do you know Milan had been punished (demoted to Serie B) once for match fixing in early 80's?

I like your name, it reminds me of his grandfather which for me is the greatest man in the world. However, you sound like a hypocrite.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 10:20am
Remember a few year ago when Milan played Inter and Ibra stood up and scored his penalty under all that pressure and showed that he was top? I feel like that was Higuain's chance last night to prove something and all it confirmed was that he's a good player but not a great at that level.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 9:40am
Why nobody speaks about the referee's blatant mistakes in favour of Juventus. The Calciopoli is back, but this website is blatantly biased to Juventus. This is why I have never read anything about the officials' misconduct during Juventus' matches.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 9:16am
Pino you are being too harsh. He left Napoli which he is entitled to. For both Madrid, Napoli and Juve he was world class, but not a top 3-4 striker in the world. As a Juve fan I wish him all the best. He is a good person.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 8:23am

What a sad and unforgiving view of incidents! Life is full of ups and downs. As you go up, it is always certain you will come down. This was not Higuan's day. And I know one day, things will turn south for Juve. We cannot let ourselves appear to celebrate these turns, concerned more about your last statement, ALWAYS...
on the 12th November, 2018 at 7:53am
@Maldini's Heir :

Your team was under surveillance by FIFA thanks to your previous owner, how could Milan spend more money before off-loading unwanted players first to balance the books?
Gattuso is NOT a good coach at all but don't blame him 100%, Milan downfall was to blame on Berlusconi & your ex-Chinese owner(s).
on the 12th November, 2018 at 5:28am
Higuain is an excellent striker but he just couldn't handle the pressure. Gattuso shoulda not played him from the beginning but probably as super-sub.
As for Milan, well Gattuso was a very good & tough midfielder but definitely not a good coach. The rumor of Wenger as their next coach? Even a coach like Guardiola won't be able to revive Milan. It's about their lack of winning mentality. They've been losing true leaders on-and-off the field like Baresi or Maldini.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 4:55am
Higuain is one of the top strikers of his generation, but also a choker. He has choked for Real, Argentina, Napoli, Juve, in the Champion's League, in the Serie A, in the World Cup & Copa America.

People need to lower the pressure on Higuain, and Milan's players and staff failed to do so. Just look at the headlines from before the game. Higuain this, Higuain that.

Pipita should serve a one-game ban, and move on with life. He has had a fine career and has much to be proud of.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 2:49am
@ Heir

Have you ever played football?

Sandro is a world class left back and he's proven to be too good for Milan defenders to stop him. He along with Ronaldo at left side are psychologically and physically painful to deal with for 90 mins.

Btw, your stupid theory about "a team filled with mediocre players can win titles if they've been together for some time" is laughable. Listen up, if you want to win TITLES (not just some games), you must have TALENTED AND EXPERIENCED PLAYERS on your side.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 2:15am
5th out of 20 is mid table?
Thanks for your input.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 1:22am
Milan didn't do too bad considering. And the penalty could've changed things. However, a couple of niggles. It doesn't matter what the quality difference is a well set up team should be stopping crosses. Sandro had too much space to cross for the first goal. Secondly I note Gattuso said Milan struggles against Juve's "physicality and pace.” So why didn't Milan sign a player with “physicality and pace” this summer?
on the 12th November, 2018 at 12:48am
It's nice to see Higuain going down in flames. He burned Napoli badly for a side that spent 3 years insulting him, only to switch to that side and see them toss him out like garbage when Ronaldo came knocking. Now he sits on a midtable team and plies his trade in the Europa League.

Higuain is an excellent example for kids - what goes around, comes around.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 12:19am

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