I have a confession to make, everybody.
I started to write this post-game thread right after Cristiano Ronaldo gave Juventus a 2-0 lead all of a few minutes into the second half. It was, as I thought at the time, the moment where Juve had taken control of Tuesday night’s game and had Milan truly wobbling on the ropes with only one last knockout punch to the gut needed to ensure another very good win.
Little did I know, within a five-minute span, that would be all blown up.
And the only thing to do was to watch Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt-less defense absolutely implode. Not just fall apart within a couple of minutes, but look like they completely forgot how to do what it is they are paid to do. (OK, that’s obviously a complete overreaction, BUT IT LOOKED THAT WAY.)
In conclusion: Instead of going all wild for that goal Adrien Rabiot scored, we are left here to pretty much do what we should be doing right now — missing Mr. de Ligt. A lot.
No, Milan going from 2-0 down to 3-2 ahead all within a five-minute span in the second half and then completely running away with a 4-2 win at the San Siro wasn’t totally because de Ligt was suspended for Tuesday night’s game. It surely didn’t help — especially knowing how important he has become and what a big role he had played in Juve’s defensive solidarity over the last month.
You just look at what led to Milan’s goals — a stupid VAR-centric penalty call, individual breakdowns on defense, a deflected shot that if it wasn’t deflected Wojciech Szczesny wouldn’t have been wrong-footed and Alex Sandro sending in a beautiful cross to the wrong team. What do they all have in common? They are things that, over the last month, Juventus hadn’t been doing — and the effectiveness of which they had defended was there for everybody to see.
Juventus got up 2-0, looked well on its way to a win, and then suddenly fell apart. They didn’t just take the foot off the gas ... shoot, they completely yanked the engine out of the car, cut off the brakes and let it careen down a step incline without much chance of slowing things down.
You can blame Maurizio Sarri for his decisions after Juventus went up 2-0. You can blame Daniele Rugani for his ineffective defending. You can blame Sandro, Leonardo Bonucci and the rest of the defense for doing the exact opposite of defending for the final 30 minutes of play. But just when it was starting to look like Juventus’ lead in Serie A was going to hit double digits for the first time all season, we’re left wondering what the hell happened in just the same amount of time as that 2-0 lead happened.
Not exactly the way you want to go into a game against the most in-form team in the entire country.
Saturday night against Atalanta just became a lot more interesting — you can determine if that’s a good or bad thing — than it might have been prior to kickoff.
At least de Ligt will be back, so we’ve got that going for us — which is so nice.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- After a game being completely flipped on its head like that one was, I’m finding it very hard to have many thoughts or observations to fill out the rest of this post. It was a lot easier to do that when Juventus was winning 2-0, but nooooooooooooo!
- Pick a word, any word, to describe what happened after it was 2-0. That might be fun.
- Ronaldo got a haircut and ditched the mini ponytail (or whatever the heck it was). Expecting a 16-photo lead story from Tuttosport breaking it all down in the morning.
- Don’t kid yourself, you were thinking it was just about over after Ronaldo’s goal, too.
- I hope everybody who thought Milan was going to be an easy win are now firing up the barbecue to cook some nice crow.
- How about Rabiot’s goal, though? That was pretty.
- How about Juan Cuadrado’s long ball that hit Ronaldo perfectly in stride? That was pretty, too.
- Cuadrado’s defending for a large part of the game, though ... not so pretty.
- Because of all the injuries and such, the ability for Maurizio Sarri to rotate the squad has been hampered. There’s obviously been little rotation all around the field, but Sarri’s inability to keep his most important midfielders fresh is one of my biggest fears as we enter the Italian summer heat and the real crunch of the schedule this month. Basically what I’m trying to say is that I hope my son Rodrigo Bentancur isn’t completely gassed come the Atalanta game. I don’t want it to happen, obviously, but it is something that I can’t keep thinking about.
- Federico Bernardeschi was really, really good in the first half, most notably four key passes. But I’m sure what we’ll hear about is what he wasn’t able to do once Juventus fell behind.
- Only two Juventus players completed an accurate cross against Milan. It doesn’t matter what the final score was, that’s just not going to get the job done.
- I wish I had more to say. But you saw those final 30 minutes, too. Just watch that again.
- Oh, I miss Matthijs de Ligt.
- I also miss Paulo Dybala.