A lullaby match to mark the near end of the season, Juventus and Milan played a dull match in Turin in which they practiced the art of neutralising threats. With both sides looking defensively capable and neither desperately seeking a win, the match was decided by one error -- the penalty Marco Amelia conceded. Arturo Vidal converted to ensure that this season, Serie A matches between the duo have seen both sides fail to score from open play.
Max Allegri's tactics were made abundantly clear from the start. Those Juve players who distribute the ball, such as Andrea Pirlo, were to be allowed all the space and time in the world. Instead, Milan would concentrate on tracking the runners to ensure there was no one available to receive all the right passes. Defending in numbers, the Bianconeri couldn't find the necessary spaces to create and were consistently thwarted in their attempts to weave their way through a crowded penalty area.
Against Lazio, we saw the Old Lady revel in the number of options she had going forward. There were several alternatives available in attack and always a player in space ready to receive the pass and construct a goal-scoring opportunity. Against Milan, the Old Lady were limited in their options.
With a midfield-heavy formation, it was unusual to see how incapable Juventus were of controlling possession. Unable to keep hold of the ball and rarely taking the initiative to provide the necessary interception or tackle to win back possession, Milan were afforded the opportunity to maintain a rhythm to their play. With Juve's defence also alert to any potential threat, the game possessed too few moments of entertainment. Rewards ought to have been offered to those who remained awake.
In the second half, Antonio Conte must have thrown a few bottles of water around the dressing room as the Bianconeri seemed a lot more determined as soon as the arrived back on to the field. They pressed in unison and high up the pitch and they did a better job of playing the ball out from the back –- a task they struggled to master in the first half due to Allegri's defensive strategy
They were ready to overcome the obstacles and yet chances were still hard to come by whilst neutralising threats were still the name of the game. That is until Amelia conceded a clear penalty. Bringing down Kwadwo Asamoah, Vidal was allowed the opportunity to score the winning goal for his side from an incredibly well-taken penalty. The scoreline had finally changed and the hope was that the game would liven up due to Milan's need to equalise.
Spaces opened up, pace was inflicted and the tempo picked up and yet entertainment was still not provided. With Allegri forced to make two substitutions due to injury, he was unable to affect the game tactically as much as he would have liked during the match.
The Rossoneri were simply not afforded the chance to get back into the match whilst the Old Lady relied on her maturity to ensure maximum points. There was no off-pitch drama, on-pitch controversy or even excellent play from either side. Neither team needed to step out of first gear to exert control or dominance and both seemed entirely happy with the mediocre level of play. Only the referee's incessant need to touch the ball, positioning himself in all the wrong places, afforded the crowd the odd moment of hilarity.
A special mention should be made on the performance of Giorgio Chiellini. The defender played an outstanding game at the back to highlight the difference in quality between him and his alternatives. Andrea Barzagli continues to demonstrate his maturity with another calm and confident performance whilst Paul Pogba consistently entertains with his dazzling displays in midfield and when pushing forward.
With Fiorentina only one point off Milan, Allegri's men need to ensure they do enough to secure a place in next year's Champions League. As for the Bianconeri, it seems they now have one hand firmly on the league trophy. They need only four more points from their remaining five games to ensure glory whilst they could even win the trophy in the derby next week should Napoli fail to win.