As the dust and the smoke settled in Turin at the end of the Juve-Milan game one thing was clear – that this Italian championship was now only a two-horse race.
The Rossoneri’s comprehensive demolition of the Bianconeri effectively ruled them out of contention as Juventus now lie 12 points behind leaders Inter. The game was probably Ciro Ferrara’s last game in charge of the Old Lady as now more than ever is there an urgent necessity for a change at the helm. The Turin giants registered no shots on goal in the entire game and apart from Giorgio Chiellini, Diego and Claudio Marchisio an air of defeat hung over the rest of the team. The players looked tired even before the games kick off and unless there is an instant change in the fortunes of the squad, the morale will continue to slip further.
The game also exposed Juve’s serious lack of depth within its ranks. The second string team is just not good enough to compete against quality opposition and the humbling received last night was truly deserved. The likes of Hasan Salihamdzic and Zdenek Grygera were literally run ragged by Ronaldinho and company. Felipe Melo who was responsible for Milan’s first goal as he let the ball slip through his legs needs to be laid off immediately. There is no sense in persisting with a player who is clearly struggling for form. The transfer market is still open and the option of loaning out the Brazilian once Momo Sissoko is back should be seriously considered. At the same time as we pointed out last week the strike force has become as barren as the Sahara desert. Amauri’s form will leave many Bianconeri wondering why the investment was made in the first place. He and Melo are increasingly looking like they were one-hit wonders and unfortunately Juve took that bait.
But yesterday it was not just about a few players who failed to perform. Every member of the squad seemed disoriented and unsure about their role on the pitch. Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Grosso are two players who are very visibly past their prime. The thirty-somethings have had seen one winter too many and they cannot keep performing at full throttle for the entire duration of the game. Christian Poulsen is also way below the standards expected of a Juventus starter and yet he somehow seems to be in the team at all times. Alessandro Del Piero may be a Bianconeri icon but he too is unable to conjure the magic he used to a few seasons ago. Yet despite all these problems Ciro Ferrara has refused to step down from his position as coach claiming “he will not abandon a sinking ship” and maintains that he is “confident of turning things around”. A true Juventini by this time would have ideally acknowledged that he is at a loss of ideas and should have stood down by now. Reports from the media suggest that Guus Hiddink has stood down as the coach of the Russian national team and we could have the Dutchman in Turin by the end of the week.
Milan meanwhile will be greatly pleased by their victory as they are now the sole challengers to their city rivals title. Milan’s victory was founded on Ronaldinho’s back who displayed once again that he is ever closer to returning to his best. The current 4-3-3 system is working very well for Leonardo and he is likely to persist with it even after Clarence Seedorf, Alexandre Pato and Gianluca Zambrotta return to the lineup. David Beckham’s deliveries throughout the game were inch perfect and he by far is the best bet for England on the right flank even at the World Cup. Ignazio Abate who didn’t have the greatest game against Genoa in midweek put in a much improved shift on the right last night. He was effective in keeping Marchisio quite for long spells of the game and his runs forward would have pleased his Coach.
Milan will now be gearing up to take on Inter in two weeks time, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Siena on Sunday. The Nerazzurri were truly terrible during their game and their victory was a great injustice on Siena who played with their heart on their sleeves. Even Jose Mourinho admitted that his team was extremely lucky to get all three points from the game. The Portuguese will hope that his team tighten up soon with the Derby Della Madonnina coming up. One way or another it is clear that this edition of the Serie A will be a race between the two Milanese giants.