Milan v Juventus: Honors EvenBy: Martha | December 1st, 2007
I suppose Milan supporters will take some heart from this match — they’ve once again failed to score at home, true, but after the first 15 minutes they were more or less the equals of a team that at this point is undeniably one of the best in Serie A. Sure, it’s only a point for Milan, but it’s also very much a sign of progress for a team that was held to the same scoreline at the San Siro by Torino not so long ago.
Juve started out on fire, and were all over Milan from the opening whistle; the visitors must have thought the Palermo match was still going on. David Trezeguet put a good chance wide in the first five minutes, then hit the base of the post in the 10th, while Milan were all over the place, scrambling like crazy in their own area and giving the ball away every time they managed to get hold of it. Even the ever-reliable midfielders were sloppy, with Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Rino Gattuso all guilty of careless passing.
Gradually, though, Milan settled down and began to create some half-chances of their own. Kaka was dangerous every time he got the ball at his feet, but Juve defended him diligently, usually with two men, and their fiercely organized back four managed to keep Alberto Gilardino from creating too much trouble (though the linesman helped them out by erroneously raising the flag at least twice). Even when Gila or Kaka got loose in the area, though, they were quickly closed down, and Gigi Buffon was never called into action in the first half, apart from cleaning up a couple of corners.
Both team came fly out in the second half, though, and forced fantastic saves out of the other’s keeper with practically their first possessions. At one end, a gorgeous run by Hasan Salihamidzic — really his first good moment of the match — ended with a one-handed, diving save from Dida, while at the other Kaka’s close-range, half-volley was pounded down by Buffon, and Gila’s finish off the rebound was correctly ruled out for offside. Buffon was called into action again later in a periodically lively half to parry a Pirlo free kick but, while both team were chasing the winner until the final whistle, the draw was a fair result.
Also: Watching the match as a neutral I have to say it was a pleasure to see these two team just play football, rather than doing the rolling around and moaning with which at least some on each side are associated. Apart from one small bout of whining, Pavel Nedved worked his tail off, and not only got up and carried on when he was knocked down, but he also tried to keep his feet, more often than not. And Gila, except for when he went a bit nuts after having his shorts tugged in the box, played similarly, getting up and getting on with it almost every time he found himself on the ground. Honestly, I really was pleasantly surprised on both counts, and it made the match a whole lot easier to take. (Gattuso, meanwhile, turned back the years and was so busy mouthing off to everyone in sight that his football really suffered. I thought he had grown out of the phase, but apparently not.)