By Kris Voakes
In January 2012, AC Milan looked odds-on to sign Carlos Tevez from Manchester City. They had another long, hard look at the Argentine in the summer of 2013. And on Sunday, it was Tevez who made the difference after the Rossoneri had dominated Juventus for much of the match.
It was just a shame for them that he did so wearing a Bianconeri shirt.
Tevez scored one and had a hand in the other as Milan were made to pay for not making the most of their chances for the second home game in succession. For a while Clarence Seedorf’s men had set their stall out well, played with a vim and vigour which was very rarely evident in the days of Massimiliano Allegri, and made a collection of great openings. But they proved to be toothless when it really mattered and had only a 2-0 defeat to show for their efforts.
With Arturo Vidal missing through suspension, Juve boss Antonio Conte would have been hoping that Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio would provide the necessary support to Andrea Pirlo for Juventus to dominate the midfield as is usually their way. Instead, Milan had a large percentage of the ball and pinned the Bianconeri back for long spells.
|MATCH FACTS | Milan 0-2 Juve
Yet chances came and went much as they had when the Rossoneri were turned over by Atletico Madrid in their last fixture at San Siro. Giampaolo Pazzini led the line well, giving Leonardo Bonucci a hard time, but he could not find a way to get past Gianluigi Buffon. Even when Kaka beat the Italy No.1 at the second attempt, Bonucci got back to clear off the line. Andrea Poli also missed a good opportunity to put the home side ahead, while Adel Taarabt’s endeavour couldn’t be matched by his finishing.
And just as Diego Costa had made them pay in their Champions League defeat, Fernando Llorente’s goal just before half-time set them up for a further sinking feeling. Adil Rami and Christian Abbiati failed to deal with Bonucci’s long ball, Marchisio played in Tevez, and he cleverly teed up Lichtsteiner, who allowed Llorente to tap home.
Tevez would play an even bigger role in the goal that killed the game once and for all, seeking out a pocket of space 25 yards out and striking the ball superbly off the underside of the bar.
When CEO Adriano Galliani flew to Rio de Janeiro two years ago to have lunch with Tevez, Milan fans would have dreamt of him delivering San Siro performances like this one. Last summer the Rossoneri needed only to offload Robinho to free the budget needed to bring in the Argentine, with Galliani admitting: “I like Carlos a lot because he’s a nasty player. He is a Manchester City player though and we will not be doing anything unless someone else leaves first.”
Sunday night’s match provided the clearest exhibition yet as to exactly what they lost when he opted to head for Juve rather than wait for the Diavolo to make their move.
The ex-Corinthians star now has 15 league goals to his name, but more than that he has shown he has the complete game that Milan are still searching for in their strikers. Whether playing with Mario Balotelli or Pazzini up top this season, they have looked short of someone who can do a bit of everything.
He is not the only difference between a Juventus side sat 11 points clear in the Scudetto race and a Milan outfit languishing in 10th position, but there’s little doubt his addition in the summer would have seen that gap reduced markedly. The more chances they miss in big matches, the more they realise what they missed in Tevez.