Wednesday , January 27 2021

Gonzalo Huguanin suffers from the collapse of Milan, as Juve presses him over the edge | Paolo Bandini | Football

Had Gennaro Gattuso noticed something in education, the first horrors that betray the eruption of an emotional volcano? Milan's fight against Juventus will always be more important for Gonzalo Higgulan, who will stay on the edge Bianconeri after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. Still, the words spoken by the manager at his press conference prior to play, are prophetic with ex-post.

"The way he experiences the struggles and the way his character is, he must try to stay calm," said Gattuso. "Compassion is required."

Perhaps Higuelín felt perfectly clear, as Franck Kessi fled to the 40th minute. It was the Argentine who had won his team a penalty kick by running just right to defeat Mehdi Benatia in the low center of Suso and to send the ball over his defender's arm with his first touch. Why should not he, Milan's top scorer, be the one who will reap the rewards?

Well, okay, yes, there are some reasons we can give. The more productive the Higuain, its record from the point is moderate. He had taken 17 previous penalties in Serie A, and lost five. Kessie's failure rate was one in six.

And then there are memories of miskicks when the bets were higher. Hughwain was able to get his penalty over the bar during the 2015 Copa América penalty shootout over Chile over Argentina. He had done the same weeks earlier for Napoli as he lost from Lazio to what was essentially a playoff for the Champions League positions on the last day of the Serie A season.

Is it unjust to repeat these incidents? Higuaín found the net in big fights. Through his two seasons in Juventus, he scored five times his previous team in Naples.

But he did not score on Sunday. The Higuaín penalty was at least in the target, with just the bottom left corner but without enough strength to defeat Wojciech Szczęsny. The goalkeeper took his fingers into the ball and pushed him into the post.

The score was 1-0 for Juventus at this point, Mario Mandzukic jumped over Ricardo Rodríguez to hit home a back-post header in the eighth minute. It was 2-0 as Higuain dropped himself on the 83rd.

Was the view of his replacement, Ronaldo, marking moments that sent him over the edge? Regardless, it was obvious that Gattuso's comments on the player's emotional state had become a prophecy. After booking for a foul in Benatias in the middle of the park, Higuaín cried angrily in the face of referee Paolo Mazzoleni and immediately showed a second yellow.

Anger turned to distrust, anger and tears. Both cards were totally deserved from the referees' point of view, but it was impressive to see his former teammates – as well as his current ones – move to comfort him. Together, after several failed attempts, he eventually led him away from the employee. Juice's Blaise Matuidi kissed the side of his head as he finally accepted the situation and started walking down the tunnel.

Minds returned to Napoli's defeat at Udinese in April 2016. Higuaín was on his way to completing the most productive season in the history of Serie A but lost his composure at the end of a 3-1 defeat that marked the start of the end to offer a title to the group. He put his hands on referee Massimiliano Irrati that day and won himself a ban on three games.

Higuain avoided repeating this error at least on Sunday. He did not hide from journalists on a full-time basis, but he publicly apologized to Mazzoleni as well as to his teammates, his manager and his fans. He also made a point to say sorry to the employee personally.

Gattuso was sympathetic, despite the inability to take his warning before the race. It was there and became worse in the days of the game. "Sometimes your feelings deceive you," he said, as he insists there is no formal hierarchy when it comes to sanctions. "The recipients are Hakan Calhanoglu, Kessie, Higuaín and Rodríguez. If Kessié and Higuaín had not discussed it [on the pitch] today, no one would say that "Kessié should have taken it".

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is celebrating the second goal of Juventus with a 2-0 victory. Photo: Alberto Lingria / Xinhua / Barcroft Images

In the end, this result does not undermine his team very seriously. Gattuso is as sensitized as any of the gap in talent and potential between Milan and Juventus. The Rossoneri still feel positive about the direction in which they are moving, having arrived here at the back of an undefeated match of seven games in the championship. At present, only one point slipped out of the first four.

Juventus expanded the best appearance of each team in Serie A, moving 34 points from 12 games. But this was a day for feelings more than computations. Leonardo Bonucci also faced his former club – or it would have been if Massimiliano Allegri had not left him on the bench.

The box is very different, of course. Supporters of Juventus, for the most part, still feel warm to Higuaín, who helped them expand the course of championship titles and reach the Champions League final. Bonucci, on the contrary, accepted his return to San Siro with a banner stating that "only Schettino is worse than you" – a reference to the captain who abandoned his post after the destruction of cruise ship Costa Concordia in 2012: people lost their life.

Allegri insisted that Bonucci's absence from the original XI was just a coincidence, and he arrived at a moment when he felt the player needed rest. However, his choice could have been considered if the Higuaín scored his penalty or if the defender's replacement, Benathia, had received a second yellow for the handball that preceded it.

In the end, however, we still have the same impression as ever. It is not a clarity but a quality and a bit of luck that opponents will need to hit Juventus on their way.

Speaking of points to follow …

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