Saturday, in one of the biggest matches of Serie A, sixth placed Milan hosted Serie A leaders Juventus. The match was important for both clubs, as Milan hoped to bring themselves closer to Europe, and Juventus hoped to add further cushion between them and Napoli.
Milan started with a good half of football, attacking Juventus the right way and keeping a good deal of possession, and even scoring a goal in the first half off the head of Alex. They had several chances that were denied by Gianluigi Buffon, and so were only able to keep a 1-0 lead, until Mario Mandzukic tied the game in the 27th minute. The second half for the Rossoneri saw the game slip away from them, due to poor defending and lack of possession. The mental lapses for Milan came to a head when Paul Pogba scored the second goal of the evening for the Bianconeri, which ended up to be the go-ahead goal for Max Allegri’s squad. Juventus left the San Siro with three more points in their pocket, extending their lead over second-placed Napoli, while Milan come away with no points and continue their cold stretch after the first day of March.
Here are the player ratings for Milan in their loss against Juventus.
Donnarumma (6.5): Although Juventus scored two goals against him, neither were particularly the fault of the 17-year-old keeper, who was in good position for most of the night, and who was solid in goal. Mandzukic’s goal was due to a lapse in defense, and Donnarumma had no chance with Mandzukic wide open on goal. Pogba’s goal was off a set piece, where Milan’s defense once again let Donnarumma down. Overall, Donnarumma had a good night in goal against a very, very good team, and while Juventus will come away with two goals and three points, the young keeper is not to blame.
Abate (5.0): Abate can be held responsible for Pogba’s go-ahead goal. Off a set piece, Abate was not in the right position at all, and let Pogba get a solid look on the ball and solid contact. Besides on the set piece goal, Abate was shaky all evening, and clearly had trouble on the flank dealing with Alex Sandro, Morata, and Pogba. It was not the best game for the fullback, and the scoreline certainly reflects that.
Alex (6.0): Alex did not have the worst day in defense for Milan, but that’s about all you can say for his defensive performance: not great, not terrible. Pogba’s goal was not his fault, but he can share a piece of the blame for letting Mandzukic get a wide open look on goal, which he easily converted. On the plus side, Alex did score Milan’s only goal of the evening, with a header off a corner. He also did not allow Juventus many open looks on goal, helping to shut down Morata.
Romagnoli (5.5): Alessio Romagnoli looked lost against Juventus, and that showed when he was in absolutely the wrong position on a Mario Mandzukic break, which then resulted in a wide-open goal. Romagnoli had one of the worst games in his time at Milan against Juventus and shoulders most of the blame for the tying goal.
Antonelli (5.5): Luca Antonelli, like so many others on this Milan team today, had a so-so game. He was better on the offensive end than he was on the defensive end, as he had some good runs and good attempts to create chances. A couple times, he made a good cut and a good cross, but no one was there or able to convert. On the defensive end, he was not a bright spot, as it took some time for him not to get beat by Stephen Lichtsteiner. He was good offensively, but ranged from not very good to invisible on the defensive end.
Honda (6.0): Honda ranged from not bad to invisible in this match. While he was good on some attacks, he was completely absent and a non-factor for a good amount of time otherwise. Honda has cooled off from his recent hot stretch, but was still one of the better performers today, and that should explain a lot about the way Milan played against the best team in Italy.
Montolivo (4.5): Milan’s captain has not had his best games as of late, and this game was no exception. He made some bad passes and bad decisions, and was unable to redeem himself by putting anything of worth together for the Milan midfield. He almost was subbed out for Manuel Locatelli, but instead stayed in the game, and was not able to contribute. Montolivo has once again earned a low rating for Milan, and Milan has once again earned a loss. If Montolivo has a good match, that is reflected in Milan’s overall performance. When he has a bad one, it is hard for Milan to come away with points.
Kucka (7.0 MOTM): Juraj Kucka was one of the bright spots in a below-average performance for Milan. He was solid in the midfield yet again, making good passes and good runs by himself. He has proven that he is a valuable piece of this team, and is also the most consistent performer in the squad. He has earned Milan’s man of the match for his consistently tough play, even when the players around him seem not to show up.
Bonaventura (6.0): Giacomo Bonaventura, arguably Milan’s most valuable player, had a game similar to Honda against Juventus. He was good occasionally, but otherwise was shut down by Barzagli and Bonucci, and was still one of the better performers.
Bacca (4.5): Carlos Bacca has very much cooled down in the past month and a half for the Rossoneri, and their results in that time period reflect what he has been able to do. He lacked good service, but even when he had the ball, he was unable to put anything together. He was unable to fit into the way Milan had to play against Juventus, and was unable to play his style of game against a very solid Juventus defense. Barzagli and Bonucci had him shut down today, and Bacca continues his cold stretch.
Balotelli (5.5): Balotelli had bright moments, and he had not bright moments. One of his free kicks was one of the best chances Milan had, and would have been a goal if Buffon was not the opposing goalkeeper. Another one of his free kicks was sent into orbit. It was that kind of evening, where he either was close to impressive on the ball, or he was completely invisible. He was unable to put the ball into the net, but that can be attributed to the stout Juventus defense, including Danielle Rugani, as well as a not-stellar game from him.
Boateng (N/A): Kevin Prince Boateng came on for Mario Balotelli in the 76th minute, and promptly contributed nothing to the Milan attack except for a botched chance. It was too little, too late.
Luiz Adriano (N/A): Luiz Adriano came in for Honda in the 73rd minute, and while it gave a different look for Milan, it did not change the game or the result, due to an exceptional defensive performance from Juventus, and a poor possession and attacking showing from Milan.