Despite their high profile, neither Juventus or champions Milan have set the world alight in Serie A so far this season. A thrashing of Parma to start the season aside, the Turin club have scraped past Siena and managed draws against Bologna and Catania, while Milan have had a tricky opening few games, drawing against Lazio and Udinese and losing to Napoli, their only saving grace a 1-0 victory over Cesena. With both sides’ lacklustre starts making a momentum-setting win key, a traditionally Italian tactical duel was on the cards.
Massimiliano Allegri packed the midfield of his Milan side with a 4-4-2 diamond, while Antonio Conte set up his side in a rough 4-2-3-1 shape, although his midfield was quite flexible.
Clarence Seedorf claimed Milan “had some trouble pressing” Juve, which would explain why they gave up so quickly. The full-backs were such an easy outball for Juve they were able to move the ball forwards quickly regardless of the pressure Milan put them under and they remained so even after Milan stopped pressing.
Giorgio Chiellini didn’t look comfortable at left-back, often looking to come into the centre, which worked for Juve as he had no direct opponent so was able to help out Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci against the many central Milan players. If any Milan player did pull wide right while Chiellini was central, Simone Pepe did a good job of tracking back into the left-back area. Stephan Lichtsteiner was happy to motor down the right flank however – his woeful crossing meant Juve weren’t able to create many chances from it though. The best crosses came when one of the midfielders drifted wide to swing one in.
With the crosses not working, Juve’s chances came from neat and often quick exchanges of passes between the midfield and Mirko Vucinic, who did a good job of holding up the ball and laying it off to his teammates. Allegri noted the problem post-match, saying “the main dangers came from the runs from the midfield which caused us problems”. Claudio Marchisio looked the most dangerous and it was little surprise that the opening goal came from him finishing this type of attack.
The best substitution of the match was the switching of Milos Krasic for Emanuele Giaccherini, with Pepe moving to Krasic’s right wing role. The extra defensive solidity of Pepe was rarely needed on the left and Giaccherini was able to give Luca Antonini real problems when he replaced the injured Alessandro Nesta, twisting him inside and out.
There’s little to say about Milan. They rarely threatened, managing just one shot on goal all game and did little to remedy the issue. In the second half, Antonio Cassano started to linger around Lichtsteiner to cut out the supply, as did Urby Emanuelson when he replaced the fantasista, albeit in a deeper position. The introduction of Emanuelson seemed a signal that Allegri had given up of hope of a win and wanted to shut up shop by adding another midfielder to the mix.
Having said that, despite Juventus clearly being the better team, the game was fairly even. The win leaves La Vecchia Signora sitting atop Serie A while the Rossoneri linger in the lower half, but both must make changes if they are going to impress this season.
Apologies about the poor diagrams. As I don’t have access to Photoshop at the moment, I can’t do them as I usually do. I can’t guarantee this will be sorted until Christmas time, but hopefully it will be corrected before then. Update: Thank you to Daniel Baumgartner, who created the new diagram.