Monday February 27 2012
In the eye of the storm

Week 25’s Milan-Juve was full of intrigue, yet, as Rob Paton writes, it may only be remembered for one very specific controversy.

Milan-Juventus was billed as a definitive clash in the sides’ Scudetto race, yet even as the Bianconeri’s draw gives them the advantage and the better head-to-head record, it will be a while before focus moves away from what might have been.

Post-match saw heated debate between sections from both sets of players on the pitch, Antonio Conte involved in a furious live television argument and Massimiliano Allegri again taking the opportunity to jibe at Juve: “I’d complain, but I don’t have permission from Beppe Marotta.”

La Gazzetta dello Sport described the 1-1 result as ‘a poisonous draw’, whilst Il Corriere dello Sport echoed Allegri’s words in deeming it as falsified. In short, the season’s biggest game had ended with the spotlight on the officiating. Where there was Alessandro Matri’s incorrectly disallowed goal for a close offside call and inconsistencies in similar fouls from Arturo Vidal and Simone Pepe - the former sent off, the latter booked - one particular incident has drawn attention.

A goal to the good through Antonio Nocerino’s deflected effort and in the ascendancy in the first half, Milan thought they had scored a second on 25 when Sulley Muntari appeared to head the ball over the line. Referee Paolo Tagliavento also thought so as he turned and pointed to the centre-circle. However, assistant referee Roberto Romagnoli on the far side had not flagged, Tagliavento had to trust him and so waved play on. Replays showed that the ball had crossed the line by a good metre and that, frustratingly, Romagnoli’s perfectly sighted gaze was fixed upon it.

It remains to be seen the direction that the game would have taken had that goal been correctly awarded. However, as it was, the Rossoneri struggled soon after that to penetrate the Juventus penalty area again, with only Robinho managing a second-half wayward effort inside the box, as Conte’s adjustments brought his side back to a more organised state.

Certainly, post-match focus should be on the work both the Juve boss and his adversary on the Milan bench carried out over the 90 minutes that made the game as fascinating as it was. With a team’s worth of absentees again, Allegri’s selection of Alexandre Pato, Robinho and Urby Emanuelson may not have carried the same immediate level of industry and inspiration that Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Kevin Prince Boateng.

Yet, that trio contributed to a collective effort of high-line pressing that somewhat startled Juve and can be directly attributable as the reason for the Rossoneri’s early ascendancy. From Leonardo Bonucci’s mistake that led to the opening goal to a noteworthy instance of Andrea Barzagli and Stephan Lichtsteiner heatedly exchanging words after an uncomfortable episode led to the centre-back’s booking, a Milan side that was otherwise weak in many ways, had Juve on the back foot and rattled.

Equally, Conte’s response - a formation change just before half-time followed by Simone Pepe, Mirko Vucinic and goal-scorer Matri’s respective second-half introductions - stole back momentum. As Pepe and Vucinic demonstrated in having more touches-per-minute than those they had replaced, the Bianconeri’s switch in shape, coupled with Milan’s tiring, saw the away side take possession in areas that mattered more.

At the same time, Matri’s highly effective 20-minute contribution of the disallowed goal and then equally legitimate equaliser came from a remarkably small number of touches - just eight. However, it was enough to put Robinho’s otherwise seemingly influential performance, Conte’s initial team selection and the weekend’s later international call-up all into a context to favour the former Milan youth product and current Juve top scorer.

Whether or not Matri’s goal should have been making the score 1-1, 2-1 or 2-2, however, is a question neither camp will agree on. Perhaps, though, both can gain solace from the overriding pre-match admittance that whatever the result, it would not be determining the forthcoming title race.

As it was at San Siro so it proved to be across an unusually high number of games in Serie A, as referees maintained centre-stage in Week 25.

Both Parma and Lecce can feel aggrieved to have seen penalties for involuntary handballs awarded, particularly as a similar incident against Chievo was not given. Indeed, in the latter episode, Cesena were the side ‘penalised’, according to debutant Coach Mauro Beretta, who also saw defender Maurizio Lauro sent off for a debatable second yellow card.

Likewise, Roma will feel hard done by for seeing Pablo Daniel Osvaldo sent off and not Atalanta’s Luca Cigarini for similar actions in their off-the-ball clash, whilst Palermo were also aggrieved this weekend to see Federico Balzaretti’s straight red in the first minute of play at Siena, and the hosts awarded a soft penalty to equalise later on.

The weekend also saw some football played and some extraordinary action take place - you need look no further than Catania goal-scorer Giovanni Marchese for such evidence.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
I dont hear Conte saying anything about the Giaccherini dive vs Chievo? Shouldnt that be a 3 game ban? And lets not forget the offside goal by De Ceglie... where is Juve's? whinning now???
on the 4th March, 2012 at 8:21am
K Blacksteal: Yes I understand what you are saying about team spirit etc. and Juventus undeniably have that but I also feel that teams that win leagues, cups also have one or two truly great players that can inspire the team during difficult times. Maybe a lack of a player of this type within the Juventus team is the reason why they can't break down the likes of Siena and Cagliari and will ultimately finish second in the table.
on the 2nd March, 2012 at 11:46am
Vivo Pato: Thank you for your comments. I have better things to do with my life than try to please the likes of people like you. I will not waste my time but I will be in touch come the end of the season!
on the 2nd March, 2012 at 9:25am
If we based the strength of a team on individuals Real Madrid would be on top of the world(oops... maybe they are!) Conte is demonstrating the strength of the TEAM and not its squad. Also, lets not compare form start of the season between the two teams considering Juve were broken for 2 years, there was no guarantee they would emerge like they did, but they did due to team effort. Relying on the form of a few players is Milan/Inters game. PS, i'd glady salute Milan if they win it (they wont)
on the 1st March, 2012 at 4:48pm
Marco,UK: Your condescension is a sign of weakness and that you are trying to divert the fact that you cannot really come up with a decent enough counter debate. I was happily having an interesting debate until you stated that I have to be invited to remark upon your comments. I can understand why you feel threatened by someone that has highlighted some flaws in what you say and why you may start 'taking it seriously'. Get over yourself.
on the 1st March, 2012 at 4:35pm
@ Vivo Pazzo - sorry Pato! 1) I sense a touch of 'taking this topic a bit too seriously' syndrome 2) I constructed my own reply but added the note from a reader in case you needed reminding as you seem to forget some important points, reminds me of Galliani and Allegri! 3)I am not blind to notice the strengths of both Juve and Milan but let me tell you that titles are not won based on the strength of teams, it's who wants it more, team spirit/character and luck. Just relax, it's only a game!!
on the 1st March, 2012 at 3:54pm
Marco, UK:1)I don't need an invite from you to reply in an open discussion 2)How about constructing your own reply rather than copying and pasting some other guys answer 3)Are you seriously blind enough to think that the current Juve team are better than the current Milan team? 4)Your theory of: here is a list of results between two teams throughout a season and everything can be deduced from that list does not hold as much ground as you may think, going by that logic, Novara are better than Int
on the 1st March, 2012 at 11:22am
K Blacksteal. Okay, You mention the first game in week 5 of the season. Bearing in mind how poorly Milan started the season, and played in that match, it took two strange goals right at the end for Juve to beat them and also, the Coppa is the Coppa and Milan have the Champions league. I want to see your name in similar blogs at the end of the season congratulating Milan for winning the Scudetto...Oh yeah, I forgot , it will be the referees fault Juve don't win the league...
on the 1st March, 2012 at 11:10am
@ Vivo Pato: I didn't invite you for your opinion in relation to my recent reply to Kristian! Pity he cannot answer my question about where he gets this thing about who owns Juve?!?
Here is a gentle reminder -
Vivo, Juve Vs.Milan - Emanuelson/Pato missing (very), Matri missing, rest you mention present. Beat 2-0. Milan-Juve Cup: Milan started 5 1st team, Juve 4 1st team, beat you again.
So bring on the Milan first team and see how they fair.
Facts are, Milan weren't good enough that night to win
on the 1st March, 2012 at 10:58am
@Vivo, JuveVSMilan Seria A - Emanuelson/Pato missing, Matri missing, rest you mention present.Beat 2-0. MilanVSJuve Coppa - Milan started 5 first team, Juve 4 first team, beat again.
So bring on the Milan first team and see how they fair. Oh and Matri, Pepe, Vucinic are who where missing. But you know how it went when we had our first team players back in the second half.
on the 29th February, 2012 at 4:51pm
Marco, UK. Kristian isn't so wide of the mark with his comment of Milan 'B'. Put it this Ibrahimovic (Milans best player by far), no Boateng, Emanuelson as trequartista, playing an unfit Pato, no Nesta, playing Muntari (a guy that was drafted in because of an injury crisis in midfield), no Cassano, no Aquilani, no Flamini etc etc. Who did Juve have out/unavailable? Plus he didnt say Milan were 'so good' was the original point about a Milan B side :-)
on the 29th February, 2012 at 2:39pm
@ Kristian Larsen: Where are you going with your point about Juve being owned??? In addition to that, your wide of the mark suggesting that Juve A got a draw against Milan B!! You are talking nonsense and i am not going to waste my time in adding anymore. The fact of the matter is this P3, W2, D1, L0: If you think Milan are so good, why did they not beat Juve without the help of a blind linesman? Another fact is your team are too old, for 65 minutes you battered and had just 1 goal to show! :-)
on the 29th February, 2012 at 12:18pm
@Kristian Larsen...listen up. Sounding your theory, Milan A team would have Boateng/Zlatan? I'm guessing by including them it would be a full Milan team yes? Fine, to counter that, Juves A team consists of two players not in the lineup Vucinic/Pepe. In case you start to dispute that they ARE not Juves A team go check the history of this season, Juve have been strongest with those mentioned present. Had the coach not of 'weakened' the Juve side, Milan would of been beaten AGAIN
on the 29th February, 2012 at 11:40am
Congrats to Juve. Your A team just managed to get a draw (thansk to the ref) against Milans B team.

In a upon contest ypu would have been beaten. Rememeber, you have been and always will be, owned.
on the 29th February, 2012 at 8:31am
That ball is so far in the goal the net practically moved! Scandal before a major international tournament! Last time that happened italy won the world cup... Maybe this is a sign of european glory!
Forza milan/forza italia.
on the 29th February, 2012 at 2:27am
For those of you who truely believe that this was an "accident" or a "missed call", wake up! I'm not suggesting any team(s) were involved but this linesman has a lot of explaining to do. Look at the picture at the top of this page. There's no way he doesn't see the goal. NO WAY!
on the 28th February, 2012 at 9:14pm
To finish my point, Why has video technology not been implemented into the most popular sport worldwide and, perhaps more intriguingly, why have the media not put more pressures on the forces that be to make sure that technology does play a part in the game we all love so that we can stop talking about referees and their decisions and start talking about the skill of players and teams!! hmmmmm
on the 28th February, 2012 at 7:54pm
Marco, UK. Do you mean an official watching a television and any such decision can be challenged by a team, or just some other official standing behind the goal, as is the case in CL and Europa league, doing next to nothing and not aiding the referee in any such way whatsoever? I find it very hard to accept the latter in light of what happened on Saturday night, if I can see a ball crossing the line on television then the linesman standing less than 30 yards away can definetly see it!
on the 28th February, 2012 at 7:48pm
Viva Pato: You have a very valid point my friend. If you are saying that mistakes are not so innocent, I question whether the referee's association have a different agenda when it comes to the big games. We can dispute this back and forth until the cows come home but having another official with a two-way radio would solve goal line issues whether it is Milan-Juve or a lega pro match of much importance! What has happened to Gigi Collina???
on the 28th February, 2012 at 4:49pm
Marco, UK...Why need more officials when the linesman is looking straight at it and can 100% see that the ball is over the line...I could see on television it was over the line!! What does that tell you? Maybe such 'mistakes' are not so innocent...
on the 28th February, 2012 at 2:43pm
It's really sad that every week in Serie A we keep seeing more and more bad calls by the officials officiating the matches. One can understand tight calls being made wrong but when the obvious is wrongly called one has to wonder what's behind this. Sadly this seems to happen in all football and I believe it is seriously harming the game. As a Juve fan I was sad that Muntari's goal was not awarded because it killed a potentially good match.
on the 28th February, 2012 at 11:08am
Dear everyone who is weighed in with their opinions: Let me get one thing straight once and for all.
While there is all the throwing of mud about who should off got red carded etc, the officials are at fault along with the FIGC, when are these people going to get a 4th & 5th official at both ends close to the goal?
Muntari's goal was legitimate, both coaches cannot be blamed for what happened. Get a grip you lot, build a bridge and get over it - Juve got a point and are still unbeaten!
on the 28th February, 2012 at 9:13am
For those that think muntar's goal was office, think again!vidal was outside the line in the course of the game after been shove by pato and that means he's still part of the game.(remember Italy vs Holland in euro 2008 van's goal?) you're only offside when you're closer to goal than the 2nd man in the opposing player. And in this case is not because there is vidal and buffon ahead of muntari. Check the rules of the game...
on the 28th February, 2012 at 8:18am
For those that think muntar's goal was office, think again!vidal was outside the line in the course of the game after been shove by pato and that means he's still part of the game.(remember Italy vs Holland in euro 2008 van's goal?) you're only offside when you're closer to goal than the 2nd man in the opposing player. And in this case is not because there is vidal and buffon ahead of muntari. Check the rules of the game...
on the 28th February, 2012 at 8:14am
Milan fans are forgetting Istanbul, you were leading 3 but lost. So even if that goal was given and you lead by2 we would still have drew or even won 6-2, all speculation.
on the 28th February, 2012 at 7:33am
Football Italia-since the new site design was launched with the new commenting system, every blog has become a sea of ridiculous, hatefilled comments by a new group of people who tell everyone else they know nothing about football, and then proceed to show themselves up as being even worse. Would it be possible to install a Forum where we have to log in and can Rep or Neg comments with a balance attached to our username? Genuine contributors may then have civilised discussions like we used to.
on the 28th February, 2012 at 6:52am
What has transpired this weekend has to some degree ruined a very cordial and respectful relationship between Juve and Milan fans. Let's just try and put the game in our mental archives and move on. The Coppa rematch is coming up and I hope everybody shakes hands and play on.
on the 28th February, 2012 at 1:22am
Why are you juve people crying offside?


is it that hard to accept you stole a draw you didnt deserve?

and please, lichsteiner was caught twice giving headlocks to muntari, hypocrite much juventinos...
on the 27th February, 2012 at 11:30pm
Muntari offside? Look FIFA law of the game: amendments 2009/2010 that says:

“If a defending player steps behind his own goal line in order to place an opponent in an offside position, the referee must allow play to continue and caution the defender for deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission when the ball is next out of play.”

So how about Vidal at Muntari moment? Remember Pato pushing make Vidal out of the field. it cause Muntari offside!!!
on the 27th February, 2012 at 11:03pm
To Serie A Fans
1. Juve have not Lost at all in Serie A this season, even when 2-0 down at Napoli.
2. Juve have superior fitness this season and have continually found that little bit extra to get back into a game under Conte.
3. Milan ran out of Legs.
4. Importantly Conte has plan B, C & D available to him, Milan Haven't had as much variety available to them in this match, you can only play whats in front of you.

5. Wow can't wait for the return leg of the Coppa, now that'll be a spicy game
on the 27th February, 2012 at 10:04pm

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