It may seem like a lifetime ago that the world of calcio wasn’t dominated by a certain side from Turin, collecting trophy after trophy whilst turning in stellar performances in Europe as their Milanese rivals Inter and Milan seem to go from crisis to crises, week in week out. Let’s rewind just eight years when things were a little different.
Milan, led by Leonardo, marched into the Stadio Olimpico in Turin as favourites on January 10, 2010 fully expecting to walk away with all three points and chase down a dominant Inter, who were out to yet again defend their Serie A title.
Under pressure Juventus Coach Ciro Ferrara had managed to ease the tension slightly having narrowly defeated Parma 2-1 in the midweek round before the visit of Milan. Before the Parma triumph, Juve had slumped to back-to-back defeats at the hands of Bari and Catania. As for Milan, they were coming into this one having seen off Genoa 5-2 at the San Siro.
As expected, David Trezeguet was forced to miss out due to injury for the home side, while Milan had to do without Alexandre Pato as they lined up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation which saw David Beckham get the nod as one of the three in midfield.
Despite Milan having the better of the opening 10 minutes it was the hosts who conjured up the first chance of the game, albeit a half chance at that. Diego cut inside, wrong footing Alessandro Nesta and Ignazio Abate, before his effort flew wide of Dida’s goal.
Milan’s creativity was proving too much for the defensively set up Juventus. Giorgio Chiellini had to be alert to cut out a trademark Beckham cross which was heading for Marco Borriello.
The breakthrough would come on the half-hour mark, as Ronaldinho broke down the left to play in Borriello. However, the striker would be greeted by Fabio Cannavaro, who was there to block his effort at goal. From the resulting Andrea Pirlo corner, which by his standards was poor one, the ball somehow bounced through Felipe Melo and into the path of Nesta, who couldn’t miss from close range.
Things were beginning to heat up as the Bianconeri began to show a bit of fight. First Christian Poulsen was shown a yellow card for a late tackle, then Hasan Salihamidzic appeared to catch Luca Antonini with a flailing arm.
Juventus finally tested Dida in the Milan goal, as Chiellini found himself clear in the penalty box, but the big defender’s sliding shot was straight at the giant Brazilian who parried his effort.
Alex Manninger was next to have his gloves stung as Thiago Silva picked up Pirlo’s short free kick and smashed a shot from all of 35 yards. However, Manninger threw himself to his left to push the strike to safety. As Beckham swung in the resulting corner the Rossoneri should have been out of site, with Ronaldinho’s header being deflected over the bar.
Within moments of the second half starting, Juventus had a golden opportunity to go level. Diego’s corner found Amauri, but he failed to connect properly and his header glanced wide. Then, on the hour mark, Ferrara made his first change. Salihamidzic made way for Mr. Juventus himself as Alessandro Del Piero took to the field to try and drag his side back into this mammoth clash.
Milan would continue to have the better of it, and on 71 minutes Leonardo’s men deservedly doubled their lead. Ronaldinho had the freedom of Turin as he was left all alone in the Juventus penalty area to flick home a Pirlo corner kick.
With the visitors now leading 2-0 the majority of the home fans had seen enough. They began to head for the exits while those who remained decided to burn newspapers and match programs in protest as smoke began covering the pitch. Those who left will be glad they did, as two soon became three. Beckham’s low cross found Ronaldinho who got his second of the game and Milan’s third, wrapping up a comfortable day’s work.
The two meet again this weekend in a huge fixture with so much at stake. Milan know victory could possibly close the gap on fourth place; as for Juventus, they simply must win. With Napoli playing away at Sassuolo beforehand, Max Allegri’s men could potentially kick off this match in second place.
Words by: @giovannid86