Controversial: Muntari nods past Buffon
While it would only be natural to start with the controversial talking points of the game, I’m not. Coach Antonio Conte showed humility in revealing after the game that not only did he get his initial tactics wrong, with the questionable decision to start with the strike-pairing of Fabio Quagliarella and Marco Borriello, but also that Milan were on the whole the stronger side;
“Anyone who saw this match realises Milan were wonderful, while Juve were lucky. Where I see that we went wrong, it’s also because they made us go wrong. I compliment my lads for hanging in there and eventually snatching a draw at the end. That fight-back showed our 24 games unbeaten are not down to luck, but also heart and hard work”
With the pleasantries suitably covered, the game provided various talking points. Leo Bonucci had a nightmare 10 seconds to forget, not only giving away possession in the lead-up to Antonio Nocerino’s opener, but then being the unfortunate man to deflect the ball past a hapless Gigi Buffon. Massimiliano Allegri’s tactics notably went a fair way in nullifying the threat of Andrea Pirlo and Stephan Lichtsteiner in particular, however Conte’s second-half substitutions countered his opposite number well with the fresh legs of Simone Pepe and Alessandro Matri combining for the equaliser. All in all, from a tactical and footballing aspect, it was an intriguing battle between the two Italian coaches, presumably with Conte the happier man on the journey back to Turin.
Post-match bust-ups ensued after the full-time whistle, Massimo Ambrosini and Giorgio Chiellini traded words on the pitch, while Conte and Sky pundit Zvonimir Boban exchanged harsh words before making peace off it. The debates will undoubtedly rage on throughout the week, all centred around two key moments in the game. Having initially denied Philippe Mexes with a fantastic sprawling save to his left, Gigi Buffon was unable to prevent Sulley Muntari from nodding in the rebound...or so we all thought. Attention switched to Paolo Tagliavento’s assistant on the far side, yet Roberto Romagnoli’s flag stayed down as bewildered Milan faces cantered back as Marcelo Estigarribia broke away. Unfortunately, Romagnoli wasn’t done for the night, as Matri thought he had levelled matters (before his actual equaliser), only for Romagnoli’s flag to this time go up and deny him an almost immediate impact.
Understandably, such events are a newspaper editor’s dream. It provides countless debates and articles to be written and contributes to what makes football the most talked about sport in the world. However, having now viewed countless ‘tweets’ on the matter, the simple conclusion is this. Unless your name is Bill, Ted, Captain Picard or Marty McFly, and you have the ability to time travel and whisper in Romagnoli's ear to make the opposite/correct decision, we will never know how the game would have ended if either goal had stood. Some will say had Milan opened up a 2-0 lead it would have been game over, go ask Walter Mazzarri if he thought the same when Goran Pandev handed Napoli a 3-1 lead against Juve with just over 20 minutes to go in Naples before it ended 3-3. Others will say if Juve had equalised with Matri’s offside effort, they would have gone on to win the game, go ask practically every other side in Serie A if breaking down Milan is quite that simple. The only things that matter are the facts, it ended a draw, the Rossoneri are a point ahead and Juve have a game in hand away at Bologna. Milan bossed matters in the first-half, but Juve showed great determination and grit in the second half to grab a share of the spoils.
With Milan facing a tricky trip to Sicily to take on Palermo next weekend, the Bianconeri host Chievo. While many will still be asking ‘what if’ this time next week and perhaps at the end of the season, Juventus have a potential opportunity to go two points ahead of their title rivals on Saturday night and render all controversy obsolete should they go on to defeat Bologna to make it a five-point buffer.
What did you make of the game itself? Your thoughts on the incorrect decisions? Happy with a point?
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