Juventus 3:2 Milan - Juve continue to struggle and win

Marco Luzzani

Another uphill battle for Juventus and another hard-fought, deserved victory.

One very expected and one very unexpected moments marked the first Juve v Milan derby of the season - i Bianconeri conceding a goal with the first shot of the match (expected) and Giovinco scoring expertly to give Juventus the go-ahead lead (mighty unexpected).

We hadn't even finished pouring the first beers before the match and Milan was up 1-0. It took just 20 seconds for Muntari to latch onto a horrible shot by Nocerino and put Milan ahead with a one-timer. Despite the shock, everyone's reaction was..."not again!"

Finding themselves in frustratingly familiar position, Juventus started pushing immediately to get the equalizer. Missing Vucinic and Lichtsteiner through injuries picked up midweek against Galatasaray, Juventus had to do with Padoin on the right (anyone but Isla) and Quagliarella up front with Tevez. Pogba was left on the bench in favor of the MVP trio that characterized Juventus' midfield over the last Scudetto-winning years.

For Milan, Super Mario Balotelli was suspended so good ol' Matri started up front with Robinho in tow.

It took just 15 minutes to get back on level terms for Juventus. Former Milan maestro Andrea Pirlo came back to haunt the Milanesi with a decently placed free kick that Abbiati made a big mess of. As both teams started calming down and finding their bearings, Carlos Tevez was brought down in the box by a shove from Constant, but the referee opted to avoid being the "star" of the show, thank God.

The second 45 minutes started with less rain, more energy, and a lovely boost by Pogba's entrance in the game replacing Padoin on the right. The young Frenchman had no problems causing threat from an unorthodox position, eager and ready to play as ever.

As Juventus failed to create something meaningful well into the second half, Juventus fans irked to see Fernando Llorente come on and help out. Conte, however, had other ideas. As the camera swung over to the sidelines for the substitutions, an empty frame eventually pointed further down to find the tiny Giovinco entering the game for Quagliarella (okay it didn't quite happen that way but if I was a Hollywood director that's totes how I would've set it up).

Juve fans and writers (ahem, me) across the world weren't even done completing their moaning tweet of why Giovinco is playing over Llorente and La Formica Atomica dazzled in the box, sent a sliding Constant the wrong way, and put Juventus ahead with a beautiful finish in the low right corner. Just like that, the smallest player on the field had made the biggest impact of all. Bravo piccolino!

Karma wasn't done making her presence felt just yet. Phillipe Mexes was sent off with 15 minutes to go for a combination of dirty tackling, ugly looks, Chiellini punching, and bad mouthing. Pirlo swung in another beautiful free kick this time hitting the crossbar, when Kaiser Giorgio slid in on the rebound and made it 3-1 Juventus. Game, set, match.

As Juve went back to their relaxed, terrible defending towards the end of the game, Muntari used a deflection on a shot to get the final score to 3-2 for the Bianconeri. It was a nervous finish at the end, but Juventus came away with the deserved victory.

LE PAGELLE

Buffon: 6.5 - I honestly don't know how much he could've done to keep Milan's goals out, but Gigi has not been his usual superman self lately. It would be great if he picks up his game along with the rest of our defense, if nothing then for the first and last 10 minutes of the games.

Barzagli: 7 - Did great to get in front of attackers when balls were played to them. Pretty good game from Andrea.

Bonucci: 6.5 - His confidence isn't what it used to be towards the end of last year. His passing was shaky once more, and he was lucky not to have let it lead to another leaked goal. He is playing decently well, but he can be better. He needs to be better.

Chiellini: 8 - He rarely lacks motivation, but that punch from Mexes was the perfect catalyst for Giorgio to go to super beast mode. Reacted great to get the third goal and was overall superb all night.

Padoin: 7 - It was a strange feeling for me, seeing Padoin in the line up and being almost happy. Anyone but Isla on there, please. Like, anyone! Padoin actually had a few good flashes during the game, yet was largely ineffective. Nothing bad, nothing good. It's how he rolls.

Pirlo: 8 - A bit of the old Pirlo on Sunday against Milan, confident in his passing and playing with conviction. He's still too slow at times and makes errant passes that give me a mini heart-attack but it was lovely to see him hitting free kicks, scoring goals, and orchestrating the offence.

Marchisio: 7 - I was happy he was playing from the start for his defensive duties, but offensively he was pretty invisible. Speaking of invisible...

Vidal: 6 - Had probably the worst half of his Juve career in the first 45 minutes, if not the worst game ever in black and white. He made some good passes in the second half and assisted Giovinco's goal. Still, I was very disappointed with Vidal - usually he's been the spark Juve lacks in previous years but he's losing a bit of that as well recently.

Asamoah: 7 - Finally, finally he cuts in more from that damned left flank and switches things up. I get that wing backs should hug the line mostly, but he would throw defenders off so much more if he changed things up a bit here and there. Hope he gets a good streak of games going from here.

Tevez: 7.5 - Still in "apache frenzy" over here. I love how Carlitos has played so far, moving constantly, coming back deeper, setting up plays, taking shots, defending, everything. Let's give him the assist for Pirlo's first goal too. El Apache!

Quagliarella: 6.5 - Should've scored, had a couple great opportunities, but he failed to take his chances and make an impact.

Subs:

Pogba: 7 - If there is one bad lesson he can learn from Pirlo it's hogging the ball for too long in front of our box. He did exactly that at the end of the match and cost us a goal. Buffon was very right to scream at him. Other than that, he manage his right-flank position pretty well and livened up the squad with his play. I know Marchisio has been struggling and Pogba has played better, but I also love seeing the effect he has coming on as a sub.

Giovinco: 8 - His goal was such a beauty, probably even more so because no one expected it would happen. He made all of us eat our words, if only for a shortwhile, but imagine how good that must have felt. Had another opportunity to score but was outmuscled.

Llorente: sv - One game he shaves his beard, another game he cuts his hair. He's so freakin bored on that bench. Poor little lion.

Coach:

Conte: 7.5 - Started the right 11 in my opinion, then adjusted very well and made great substitutions. It's not much of a challenge to outsmart Allegri when he has half the squad injured, but Conte still made the difference on another night where we conceded early. That said, he does need to switch things up a bit here. Hopefully the international break will give him time to perfect a 4-3-3 with this crop of players.

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