Massimiliano Allegri's return to the San Siro, along with Filippo Inzaghi's first big test as Milan manager dominated the pre-match build up, as the team selections from both sides offered no surprises. Juventus remained in their preferred 3-5-2 with Roberto Pereyra in midfield, while Stephan El Shaarawy returned to the Milan attacking trio.
Juventus' dominance throughout, however, combined with Milan's reactive approach, thwarted the overall progression of the tactical battle. The away side's possession and territorial superiority pegged Milan into their half, but this served as an additional example of the Bianconeri's profligacy in the final third.
The home side rarely applied pressure further up the pitch - when Milan pressed high they were predominantly successful, look no further than Cristian Zapata's proactive interception leading to Sulley Muntari's cross, which resulted in Gianluigi Buffon expertly denying Keisuke Honda's header from point-blank range - and this provided Juventus freedom to surge into Milan's half. The advanced positioning of Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner pegged Milan's wingers into deep positions, as Inzaghi's 4-3-3 shifted into a 4-5-1 without the ball, but similar to previous games this season, Juventus struggled to turn possession dominance into quality chances.
Claudio Marchisio dictated the tempo of the match from the base of midfield, but it was Pereyra's dynamism that ignited Juventus' best moves in the opening half. First, he linked play with Carlos Tevez and curled a shot over the net, and the 23-year-old replicated a similar moved later on in the half with the isolated Fernando Llorente, thus forcing goalkeeper Christian Abbiati to make an important save.
Still, Pereyra's movement at the half-hour mark was arguably Juventus' best move of the opening period. With Milan sitting so deep in their third, there was limited space for Tevez to slide into and create chances, and Allegri's midfield couldn't make penetrating runs behind an organized backline. Pereyra, though, ran behind Cristian Zapata to receive Tevez's ball into half-space, and the 23-year-old's unorthodox lay-off saw Llorente storm into the box but Abbiati denied the Spaniard from point-blank range.
Although Pereyra's direct running to link midfield and attack was imperative to Juventus' attacking threat, the away side was equally efficient without the ball. Milan was unable to break on the counter once they sustained possession, as Juventus' counter-pressing forced Inzaghi's men to quickly concede possession. Likewise, Allegri instructed his wingbacks to stay tight on Milan's fullbacks - this could explain their scarce impact on the match - while the front two energetically applied pressure on the Milan centre-backs. The away side swarmed and harried Milan players when they attempted to launch counter-attacks, and Juve's tireless work-rate proved crucial to negating the home side's threat.
Nevertheless, Milan did enjoy spells in Juventus' half, but the lack of a creative player in midfield resulted in laboured possession - the home side's best moves derived through in-form Milan striker Jeremy Menez. Menez's pace was noticeable in the opening minutes, as the Frenchman turned Leonardo Bonucci and exploded into the Bianconeri's half before being tugged down by Pereyra. The Milan attacker's overall play was superb for majority of the match; Menez shrugged off Juventus defenders and linked play with his wingers, effectively ran the channels to place teammates in dangerous areas, and served as a constant nuisance against a sluggish Bianconeri backline.
The pattern of the match remained unchanged in the second half with Allegri's side in full control, while Milan legs tired. Oddly, Juve couldn't consistently construct well-worked moves from open play, and it took a moment of sheer brilliance from Tevez and Paul Pogba to steer the away side into the lead. The latter showcased his strength, vision, and technique to deliver a delicate ball to meet Tevez's untracked run into the box, and the Argentine striker notched his fourth goal in all competitions.
Inzaghi's attempt to rescue the match saw Giampaolo Pazzini and Fernando Torres enter the fray, but as Milan began to push bodies forward, Juventus received space to exploit on the counter. With Inzaghi lacking creative options in midfield, Milan encountered the same issues - simply lacklustre in possession - subsequent to their offensive changes.
While both sides were considerably organized and disciplined, quality in the final third proved significant, and it further highlighted that Milan's attacking options are vastly inferior to the champions. This was reminiscent of Juventus' victories in big domestic games under Antonio Conte — organized, clinical and patient — but the lack of guile and invention in attacking areas is jarringly worrying going forward.