After an hour had elapsed it was looking like a victory parade at the San Siro. Juventus up by two goals against a flaccid AC Milan, and with Lazio having foundered against Lecce earlier, the Bianconeri looked well-poised to take their lead at the summit of Serie A to ten points with just seven games to go.
Then the entire team seemed to fall asleep and when they arose again from their slumber, Milan lead 3-2 and Juve were suddenly tired and beaten with no fight left in them. Sarri made wholesale changes but the moment was gone and the advantage lost.
Speaking after the game, the manager refused to dwell on this capitulation insisting it was normal and that the players will be looking forward instead.
“I think our first 60 minutes were world class. We were in total control and had this blackout. There’s not even much use thinking too much about it, because we have another game in three days.
“We had a total blackout for 15 minutes. It has happened to other teams in this period. We have to take the positives from the game, which are that we were in total control for an hour.
“It’s usually not even possible to find the reasons for these inexplicable blackouts.”
Juve’s mental frailties have shown themselves before this loss too, but Sarri refused to accept that these were the same issues.
“We had some bad performances and quite rightly lost them, but this is not the case now. We played well this evening. I’ve seen many other teams have similar blackouts lately, because it’s an unusual situation to be playing and training in these temperatures, with so many games close together.
“Sitting here trying to over-analyse it or put ourselves on trial could be counter-productive and make us lose all the good work we’ve done so far.
“It’s completely different to the defeats against Verona and Napoli, so we have to focus on the next match. This is a team that has excellent football in its capabilities and that is what we need to build on.”
With Matthijs de Ligt and Paulo Dybala suspended, Daniele Rugani came back into the starting lineup.
“The defence was fine up until the 62nd minute, as we didn’t allow Milan a single chance before then. The blackout hit everyone. You can change all 11 players at that moment and it won’t make a difference.
“Higuain did what he had to do at this moment, he started well, then slowly faded out of the game, as was to be expected with his fitness levels.”
Sarri didn’t believe either that his side had gotten complacent even before the first minute when they heard the scoreline from Lazio vs Lecce.
“I don’t think it made a difference, otherwise the initial approach would’ve been poor. Instead, we were focused for most of the match. I don’t even think we relaxed after going 2-0 up, it was the penalty that sparked the blackout.”
Adrien Rabiot had opened the scoring after an incredible run took him from his own half to the edge of the Rossoneri box where a fine finish left Donnarumma for dead.
“Rabiot is settling into the squad, into Italian football, into his first experience abroad. His progress was slowed by a few injury problems, but he is now getting there.”