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Juventus hand scudetto to Milan
17.3 || Seamus

Sunday's match most probably sealed the fate of this season's Serie A title race, with Milan imposing themselves over eternal rivals Juventus thanks to an important 3-1 away win. Everything went in favour of the rossoneri with Roma drawing in the afternoon away to Reggina and Ancelotti's squad winning a well-played match against Lippi's team.

The match itself was a good advertisement for Serie A and those who think that Italian football is boring are probably those who do not watch it at all. Both teams played offensive and entertaining football with a high number of goal scoring opportunities for each side. One can see that this is Milan's year as even in the moment of difficulty they are able to get the most with the least work.

Sunday was an example of this as during Juventus' best moment when they were pressing hard and creating good chances, Milan hit back and scored to take the lead. The bianconeri had many players missing, especially in the forward line, and in fact their high number of chances seemed toothless whereas Milan always looked dangerous when going forward. Overall a draw would have been fairer but Milan proved they are one of the best teams in the world by being able to win games that other teams would have not been able to win.

This match leaves both teams in a different situation and looking at different objectives now. Milan can relax a bit more now in Serie A as they hold a 7 point advantage over closest challengers Roma and 9 points over the same Juventus. This will probably mean that Ancelotti will use the turnover extensively before any Champions League match, starting from next Saturday against Parma to rest his key players for the Deportivo clash.

This might in a way give a glimmer of hope to the challengers who still hope Milan might slip up in the next rounds when the Champions League is at its hottest and the player's focus would be mostly on the European Cup rather than the Italian league. Ancelotti in the past had already squandered a 9-point lead when in the 1999/2000 season his Juve had lost the Scudetto on the last day to Lazio, so the rossoneri coach will not be counting his chickens yet.

However this Milan side not only wins matches, but they win them in a very convincing and spectacular way, with Kaka, Shevcenko and Seedorf proving deadly upfront and the duo Nesta and Maldini being unbeatable in defence. Theoretically the rossoneri can achieve 91 points if they keep on winning and that would be an incredible achievement for any team. In previous years, it was said that a team needed to reach the 70 points mark to be guaranteed the Scudetto, but with the three teams on top marching on better than in pervious years, the 70 point mark has been raised to 80 poins this season. Milan already have 64 points, thus winning 5 of the last 9 matches will guarantee them the Scudetto which has been missing since the 1998/99 season.

The diavoli can now concentrate mostly on claiming a second consecutive Champions League, and with a favourable draw, the final does not seem far away. Probably Milan are currently Europe's best and most entertaining team to watch but a sudden dip in form might ruin their objectives, as during the span of a whole season, no team is actually able to hold on to their good form and sooner or later all teams pass through a bad patch. Whether this will happen or not to Milan remains to be seen, but if they keep playing this way, their fans should have nothing to worry about.

In Italy there is a very thin line between failure and success and as long as you keep winning then you are hailed as the best. However, one bad season makes the critics forget all the good that was made and you are degraded to being called a bad team and coach. This is the case of Juventus, who during the Lippi era, in 8 years full of successes both domestically and internationally, the bianconeri failed to win anything only in one season while in all other seasons they ended up taking home at least one important trophy.

This season might be another case of a winless one, though there still is the Coppa Italia which if they win, would mean that they reach the 10th win in this competition. They also have the 2nd place in the league to look forward to and therefore their season is far from over. Lippi's main worry is the number of injured players which might dent the team's objectives, but as proved yesterday, Juve's strength relies in the personality and strong character of a team that never gives up no matter the situation.

Whatever the final outcome of the season, Juventus will need to have a well thought self-analysis and see where it all went wrong. Objectively, Juventus in Serie A are moving at the same pace of last season, so it just proves that the bianconeri have not underperformed overall in the Italian league. Their main faults were not winning any direct clash and not having a solid defence as in previous years.

And that's where Moggi comes into play. Juve's General Manager knows his team and football in general and will have already targetted what to do to get the team back on top as during the Moggi-Lippi era, there have never been two consecutive unsuccesful years which proves that the club knows how to remedy to mistakes made in the previous season.

New names that could be joining the Juve side next season are many, most of which are defenders. But many players might be leaving too, including Nedved or Trezeguet as for the first time in 10 years, the club is in debt and will need a major sale to boost their income. However Juve fans should not worry as in one way or another they will get back to the top of Italian football and this season will be just a flash in the pan for the bianconeri troops. In the mean time they can admire Milan and admit that this season is painted in rossoneri colours, hoping that next year will be different.

Editorial by:
Glenn Debattista

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