Juventus vs. Internazionale match,
May 15, 2021, by Esteban El Chiapaneco, aka Steve
I hope everyone was able to watch this match, as it was completely fantastic. Not so much for beautiful football but for overall drama it was unparalleled. A “barn-burner,” as crazy, Mega-Pazzo events are sometimes characterized in the USA.
Line-ups: Inter: (3-5-2) Handanovic, Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni, Hakimi, Barrella, Brozovic, Eriksen, Darmian Lukaku, Martinez
Juventus: (4-4-2 Szczesny Danilo, De Ligt, Chiellini, Sandro Cuadrado, Bentancur, Rabiot, Chiesa Kulusevski, Ronaldo
The match was tight and extremely physical from the opening to the concluding whistles, virtually guaranteeing early on that Referee Gianpaolo Calvarese would become a protagonist in his own right. The previous sentence is a bit of an understatement. The ESPN+ announcers’ had their own label for the match, “The Transfer of Power Between the Old and the New” as they announced that Atalanta had clinched their UCL spot by narrowly winning at Genoa, 3-4.
Georgio Chiellini greeted his opposing captain, Samir Handanovic, with a warm hug and some sort of jest, as evidenced by the keeper’s reaction. We seemingly began by slowly rolling short passes in our end.
At 2:43 the first mention of the ill-fated “Super” League is dropped, while at the same time Lautaro Martinez manifested his speed early, with De Ligt barely closing the young argentine down.
Inter chose to defend deep and absorb our pressure, and we were able to hold substantial possession in the opening half, in particular, with Ronaldo, Chiesa, and Kulusevski all able to make short runs and Cuadrado pinging accurate balls all over the place, but unfortunately our forwards were unable to convert. Kulusevski in particular was active and available, but squandered the half-chances he was able to create via his perpetual movement. Just prior to the 20 minute mark Bentancur picked up a yellow card for dragging down Lautaro from behind. Cards would play a major role in this match (understatement alert). A few minutes later Chiellini was leveled in the box on a corner kick opportunity, but Calvarese doesn’t react right away. The VAR elects to look it over and determines that it is a genuinely punishable offense. So the next event is automatic, right? Like so many aspects of this match, there was a twist. Cristiano shoots at something like ¾ speed to Handanovic’ right, and the veteran keeper blocks it fairly easily, then spills. Ronaldo pounces on the rebound and it’s 1-0.
At the 32 minute mark Lautero goes down easily after feeling pressure on his Achilles by de Ligt and it’s marginal, but Calvarese gives it, and seconds later Lukaku, who was excellent throughout, slots it past Tek with ease. 1-1
At 45’ Juan floats another of the myriad beautiful crosses he would author on this day, Rabiot knocks it toward goal but without the power required to give us a second. 2 minutes into extra time everyone on the pitch looks fully shagged….until, suddenly Kulusevski retrieves a ball destined to roll past the end line, knocks it backwards to Cuadrado, who unleashes a rising screamer that takes a very slight deflection off Erikson before slamming into the net. 2-1. The half ends with the home squad holding a decisive advantage in all measurable categories, but it was quite evident that this contest was destined to go down to the final whistle. .
2nd half: Perisic in for Darmian, who won’t be satisfied with his performance. Juve no changes De Ligt quickly whacks Lautaro to the turf as the half gets underway. Conte doesn’t look particularly concerned, given his position in the table and the permanence of his hair. Danilo clears a ball and catches Perisic in the neck. Moments later Hakimi slams De Ligt into an advertising hoarding. Inter looking more cohesive and determined. Lautaro launches a curling effort that seems destined for Tek’s upper left corner, but instead sails just wide and high. They’re pressing harder and we’re having issues putting even a few passes together. Bentancur, trying to nick the ball off Lukaku, makes contact with the big Belgian, but it seems like shoulder-to-shoulder and perfectly legitimate, especially in this derby. Instead Calvarese quickly brandishes his red card and Bentancur is dispatched to the stands. Pirlo subs McKennie for Kulu as defensive prowess is most needed from this point on. Initial signs show us disjointed, but it’s clear it’ll take a bit for everyone to settle.
Inter smartly making us chase and it’s inevitable that they’ll be able to manufacture a handful of decent chances.. After another sliding block by De Ligt, who is destined to become a Juve captain (securing the UCL spot makes that MUCH easier, obviously, because his agent is named The Notorious Mino.
65:00 Lautaro comes close with a scissors kick in the box as Morata warms up for Juve.
68:45 Chiellini pulls back Lautaro just outside our box…like a millimeter outside, if at all.
69:00 Pirlo subs off CR7 and Chiesa and brings in Alvaro Morata and Merih Demiral, thus bringing fresher, younger legs in attack and another big bruising CB to get in the way of the pesky Inter attackers.
72:00 Antonio sends in Stefano Sensi and recalls the vastly ineffective Eriksen. At this point, I, the perpetual little kid watching my favorite team, am moved to scribble, “if we can pull this out it will go down as a famous win.” As if a few centuries from now a large sect of humans will become preoccupied with the Super League fiasco.
75 min. Inter works the ball around the periphery of our box trying to run us ragged. They’re getting a few half-chances, and we’re not getting any. In the 77th minute Bastoni picks up a yellow for whacking Cuadrado, who has been our most influential outfield player throughout. Moments later, Morata forces a save from Handanovic. We’ve consolidated into a 3-4-2 and De Ligt and Chiellini seem to be everywhere. Bastoni in/Vecino out Then I have a notation that states: Oh, my God, Chiellini. This must have been in response to innumerable moments when he either made a well-timed intervention or barely escaped his 2nd card.
The match has turned from merely nerve wracking to some form of torture, as Morata, looking lively, gets a shot off from a tight angle that’s saved by Samir H.
81 min Excellent save by Szczesny on Vecino’s header Somehow, Cuadrado conjures a foul on Perisic in the box, managing to get himself tangled up with Perisic and falls down, something Cuadrado (who was man of the match and well-deserved) does much better than most. I’m typing now, but in real time during the game this was a moment of screaming and disbelief that the officials and VAR didn’t take a few more looks at it.
What wasn’t bogus was Juan’s penalty, a shot that may possibly have saved our season and might have also prolonged several Juventus employees’ job tenures. The slender Colombian perpetual motion machine took a short run up and unleashed a vicious whack on the ball, sending it screaming and swerving low and inside Handanovic’s left post. Cuadrado wasn’t done yet, as he managed to pick up a yellow card 30 seconds later, merely by going for a 50/50 ball, a card as improbable as the penalty he’d just won. As we held on desperately in one of the wackiest matches any of us will ever see, Brozovic slides in from behind on Cuadrado, sees yellow, and then red, and is duly ordered off the pitch. This is a guy who has an image of a round bomb with a long, burning, fuse tattoed on the side of his neck. Karma.
Juventus: Szczesny: bungled a ball that Danilo ,had fully under control, but made a great save on Vecino to safeguard the victory.
Danilo: 6.5- had a lot to do, and handled it efficiently.
De Ligt: 7- Smooth and authoritative, called for a penalty that seemed undeserved.
Chiellini: 6.5 – gets by on guile and anticipation at this point. Not quick or nimble enough to handle the Lautero’s of this world anymore.
Alex Sandro-6 Solid if unremarkable
Chiesa: 5.5- not his best outing, the mazy runs tended to fizzle more often than not.
Rabiot: 6.5- Another in a series of recent performances in which his combination of skill and strength were on display.
Bentancur: 4- in between a few decent plays were sandwiched 2 epically lame collisions
Cuadrado: 9 Another of many standout performances this year. He’s getting a raise.
Cristiano R: 6 Seemed off, terrible penalty and was lucky to cash in on the spill, not his best
Kulusevski: 6.5 Active early and looked to be a protagonist in this match, but faded
Subs: McKennie: 5.0 Ran a lot but not as sharp and impactful as he can be Morata: On for a few minutes. We needed his speed and hold-up play earlier on.N/R Demiral: came on late to provide 3 at back to protect lead.
N/R Inter Ratings:
Handanovic: 6 Saved on Ronaldo’s penalty, unlucky the ball bounced right back out; no chance on the other scores.
De Vrij: 6.5 solid, active
Skriniar: 7 excellent positioning and timing throughout
Bastoni: 5.5 solid until he failed to close down on Cuadrado’s goal.
Darmian: Blundered in taking down Chiellini, consistently erratic in decision-making
Brozovic: 7.5 the best all-around midfielder on the pitch today
Eriksen: 4.5 Botching a free kick was the only memorable thing he accomplished
Hakimi 5.5: Showed a few flashes of his speed and class, but went missing for most of the match.
Barrella: Another of the underachieving mids on display.
Lukaku: 8: perfectly-taken penalty and authored Georgio’s own goal Lautaro: 7.5 menacing throughout, won a key penalty
Subs: Perisic: N/R unfortunate to have been suckered into minor contact by Cuadrado Vecino: N/R Got his head onto a ball soon after stepping onto the pitch, but that was it. Sensi: N/R On for just a few minutes late