Juve struggle in overcoming 10-man Milan

Posted by Mina Rzouki

Sometimes one learns from defeat, but Juventus will have to postpone the lesson. A 3-2 victory over an average Milan should not be celebrated -- not when the away side were allowed to safely contain the pressure and impose their own danger. Juventus may have been marginally better but they need to drastically improve should they wish to win a trophy this season.

- Report: Juventus 3-2 Milan

The stadium was stunned. The fans uncomfortably shifted in their seats. Conceding first has become a disease Juventus cannot cure and it took 19 seconds for Milan to go 1-0 up.

The recovery took a few minutes but when the Bianconeri awoke from their nightmare, they viciously pushed forward to exploit the gaping holes within the Rossoneri defence. Fabio Quagliarella missed a great chance and the Bianconeri's fast tempo saw their opponents struggle to maintain possession.

Yet despite looking faster and fitter, Juve still struggled to impose their strength and convert their chances. The midfield, once the pride and joy of the Turin giants, looked absent-minded and disinterested. By contrast, Juve could rely on their warrior up top, Carlos Tevez, who worked tirelessly to get his team back in the game. His mobility, strength on the ball and individual technique troubled the weak Milan back-line.

With Andrea Pirlo so closely marked, the Rossoneri asked Riccardo Montolivo to follow him around like a bad smell. So concerned were Milan with their former player's ability, that they failed to properly close down Juve's alternatives pushing through. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci were often found going forward without a single effort made to close them down, yet they couldn’t help in getting that equaliser.

As usual, chances were frequently created but hardly finished. It took a goalkeeping error and a good Andrea Pirlo free-kick to rescue Juve's situation and allow them their much needed equaliser.

The second half brought with it more drama and more Juve imprecision. Taking long to settle back into the game, Antonio Conte made a wise move when he chose to take off the ineffective Simone Padoin for Paul Pogba. The Frenchman took his place in the wide area -- a position in desperate need of genuine quality. His ability to penetrate, deliver accurate balls and stretch the defence made all the difference.

Considering, as noted before, the Rossoneri's capability of conceding headed goals, most fans in the stadium were hoping Fernando Llorente would arrive on to the pitch. Instead, the coach opted to bring on the pint-sized Sebastian Giovinco, to the disbelief of many. The diminutive attacker was never going to head in a goal but the tactician hoped his mobility and close control would devastate the Milanese back-line, and Conte proved to be correct. Less than 120 seconds after coming on, Giovinco exhibited strength and calm to dummy Cristian Zapata and score Juve's second to repay the coach's faith in him.

Giovinco also succeeded in getting Philippe Mexes sent off. Receiving a yellow card for fouling the Juve player, it's assumed the Frenchman received a second yellow for dissent. Mexes was lucky to still be on the pitch at that point as the officials missed his punch on Chiellini in the penalty box earlier in the game.

Another Pirlo free-kick rattled the crossbar before Chiellini scored from the rebound to send the Bianconeri 3-1 up. Juve were improving; Arturo Vidal looked to have woken up and Conte's team finally looked capable of finishing the game off. That is until Sulley Muntari, who scored his side's first goal, exploited an error to manage a second and make the end a nervy affair for the home crowd.

The Old Lady was far from her best but she did enough to collect the three points. Yet when considering the absences of Massimiliano Allegri's Milan, Conte would have hoped for a better performance from his men. Juve are simply not a team to fear at this moment in time. The quality within the side should mean they win with greater ease yet there seems to be a constant struggle.

Meanwhile the frequency and manner in which they concede goals has proved frightening. Muntari's goal was met with a roll of the eyes by Conte. What once looked like an impenetrable defence now looks easy to overcome. Individual mistakes must be avoided while the side lost their defensive shape far too often to spark concern. Unless these points are addressed, the struggle will continue.

However, as long as maximum points are achieved, one cannot complain too much. The fans, as well as Conte, simply hope the squad can rediscover their ability to win matches in comfortable fashion again.

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