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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.
 
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