It was a wild weekend in Serie A, with Inter Milan losing to Atalanta and Napoli coming from behind against Genoa. But the game of the weekend was always AC Milan hosting Juventus. Cristiano Ronaldo’s first trip to the San Siro versus the Gonzalo Higuain revenge game.
Serie A Weekend: Gonzalo Higuain Melts Down in Loss to Juventus
Juventus Dispatch AC Milan
In the history of Italian football, there are two giants that stand atop the mountain; Juventus and AC Milan. Milan and Juve are two of the most successful sides in world football, with over 50 league titles and nine European titles combined. Juventus have been dominant all season and they looked to continue that on Sunday.
From the start of the game, you could see Juventus were ready. Within eight minutes, Mario Mandzukic had once again outmuscled an opposing full-back and scored a header. Mandzukic, in his first game in a month, played 90 minutes of Mandzukic football; and Milan had a tonne of trouble with it.
The Higuain Experience
But nowhere near as much trouble as Gonzalo Higuain. Higuain, playing against his former club, wanted to have a good showing. He was forced out of Juventus by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. He wanted to stay at Juventus, but they needed to sell him to sign Ronaldo. So they forced his move to Milan and Higuain hoped to make them pay.
So in the 40th minute, Higuain had a great touch that was handled by Mehdi Benatia in the box, earning a penalty for Milan. Obviously, Higuain took the penalty, and obviously, because it was a big game, he missed it. Wojciech Szczesny got a finger to it and touched it onto the post, exactly the opposite of what Higuain wanted.
But in the second half, right after Cristiano Ronaldo had scored Juventus’ second goal, he finally melted down. He was called for a foul, again Benatia was involved, and given a yellow card. The card was just, but Higuain was ready to explode, and boy did he. He completely snapped on the referee, earning a red card for his frustration. The outburst ended with about ten different players trying to calm him down as we walked into the locker room in tears.
At that point, the game had already been won. Two goals, from Mario Mandzukic and Cristiano Ronaldo, had sealed the three points for Juve. That’s eleven wins out of twelve games for Juve and they have already opened up a six-point lead on second place Napoli, and it doesn’t look like anyone will be stopping them.
Inter Milan Shocked at Atalanta
It was an absolute shocker on the north side of Italy when high-flying Inter Milan travelled to take on Atalanta. Inter had been flying, they had seven straight wins in Serie A going into this game. They needed three points from this game to keep place with Napoli (we’ll get to them). But they got nothing as they were smacked back to reality with a 4-1 loss.
The game was just a mess from the start for Luciano Spalletti and his Inter Milan side. Within ten minutes, they had conceded the first goal and by half-time, they had added three yellow cards. Then, immediately after half-time, they got some life. A comedy of errors in the Atalanta defence force a handball, which was followed by a Mauro Icardi goal from the penalty spot.
But that was the lone spotlight for Inter as Atalanta proceeded to score three more goals, with Alejandro Gomez and Josip Ilicic playing a starring role in the second half. That’s four straight wins for Atalanta now and, after a really bad start, they have climbed back up to eighth in the table.
Napoli Come From Behind
Napoli traveled to Genoa in the pouring rain off the back of a big 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, which meant they needed plenty of rotation in this game. Dries Mertens and Fabian Ruiz, two of their best players, were on the bench. So, naturally, Napoli went down 1-0 before half-time thanks to a nice goal from Genoa’s Christian Kouame.
But the aforementioned pair came on for Napoli at the start of the second half and made all the difference. After 15 minutes on the pitch, they combined for Napoli’s equalizing goal. Shortly after, the match had to be suspended due to a massive downpour. Napoli’s momentum was not affected, however, as their pressure forced an own goal winner from Genoa’s Davide Biraschi.