Had Gennaro Gattuso noticed something in the training, the first shocks that predict the eruption of the emotional volcano? Milan against Juventus has always been important to Gonzalo Higuaín, rejected by Bianconeri after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. Still, the words spoken by the manager at his press conference before the game sound prophetic in retrospect.
"The way he's going through the matches and the way he's in shape has to be calm," Gattuso said. "Brightness is required."
Perhaps Higuaín felt completely at ease, putting aside Franck Kessié in the 40th minute. The Argentinian, who deserved his punishment, made his run just in time to defeat Mehdi Benati in the lowest center of Suso and touched the defender's ball for the first time. Why is he, the best Milan scorer, also not the one who collects this prize?
Well, OK, yes, there are some reasons we could give. As fertile as Higuaín, his record from the place is mediocre. In Serie A he took 17 previous penalties and left five. The Kessié failure rate was one in six.
And then there are memories of miskikas when the stakes are highest. Higuaín struck his penalty over the bar during the shooting that decided on Copa América in 2015 in Chile over Argentina. He made the same weeks for Napoli, because he lost to Lazio, which was an effective match in the Champions League on the last day of the Serie A season.
Is it dishonest to repeat these incidents again and again? Higuaín also found a net in big games. For two seasons at Juventus he scored five times from the previous club, Napoli.
But he did not get it on Sunday. Kara Higuaína was at least on target, aimed exactly at the bottom left corner, but without enough power to defeat Wojciech Szczęsny. The goalkeeper put his fingers on the ball and pushed it into the post.
At this point, Juventus scored 1-0, and Mario Mandzukic rose above Ricardo Rodríguez to get back in the eighth minute. It was 2-0 until Higuaín was sent back, in 83.
Was it the sight of his deputy, Ronaldo, who shot a few moments earlier that sent him over the edge? Regardless, it was clear that Gattuso's comments on the emotional state of the player had become a prophecy. After being booked for a foul at Benatia in the middle of the park, Higuaín shouted furiously in the face of Judge Paolo Mazzoliu, and the second yellow was immediately shown.
Anger turned into disbelief, indignation and a shadow of tears. Both cards were well deserved from the point of view of the judges, but it was striking to see his former teammates – just like his present – move to comfort him. Together, after several unsuccessful attempts, they eventually dragged him away from the official. Blaise Matuidi Juve & kissed him sideways when he finally accepted the situation and started walking towards the tunnel.
The minds returned to Napoli's defeat in Udinese in April 2016. Higuaín was on his way to finishing the most prolific season in Serie A's history, but he lost his temper after 3: 1 defeat, marking the beginning of his career. stake for the team title. On this day, he put his hands on the referee Massimiliano Irrati and won the ban on three games.
Higuaín avoided repeating this error, at least on Sunday. He did not hide from full-time journalists, but instead he publicly apologized to Mazzoleni, as well as his teammates, managers and fans. He also made a reason to say personally that he was sorry.
Gattuso was sympathetic even though he did not hear the warning before the match. He was there and he was doing worse in his game. "Sometimes your emotions cheat you," he said and insisted that there was no formal hierarchy in terms of punishment. "Participants are Hakan Calhanoglu, Kessie, Higuaín and Rodríguez, if Kessié and Higuaín did not talk about it [on the pitch] today nobody would say that "Kessié should have received him". "
Ultimately, this result will not hurt his team too much. Gattuso is just as conscious as anyone who has the talent and potential that exists between Milan and Juventus. The rossoneri they can still feel positive about the direction in which they are moving, after arriving here because of the seven-time unbeaten duel in the league. At the moment they are losing only one point beyond the top four.
Juventus has extended the best start so far, which the team created in Serie A, moving to 34 points from 12 games. But it was a day of excitement more than a calculation. Leonardo Bonucci also faced the former club – or maybe if Massimiliano Allegri did not leave him on the bench.
Of course, the context is very different. Juventus supporters, for the most part, still feel warmth in relation to Higuaín, which helped them to prolong the running of league titles and reach the Champions League final. Bonucci, on the other hand, was welcomed in San Siro with the inscription "only Schettino is worse than you" – a reference to the captain of the ship, who left his position after ruining the Costa Concordia liner in 2012: a disaster in which 32 people lost their lives.
Allegri insisted that the absence of Bonucci in the early 11th was just a matter of coincidence, and this match appeared when he felt that the player needed rest. However, his choice could have been more attentive if Higuaín scored his penalty, or if the substitute defender, Benatia, received his own yellow on the handball that preceded him.
In the end, however, we still have the same impression as always. It is not a clarity but a quality and a bit of luck that the opponents will need to push Juventus off the course.
Topics of discussion
• Goals away from home, in the middle of the second half, on the pitch just as hot as you would expect from a match that had to be stopped for almost a quarter of an hour due to a downpour. Yes, Dries Mertens, Napoli can really do it on a cold, rainy day in Genoa.
• Giampiero Ventura took all four matches (in this weekend draw with Bologna the first one was not a failure) to resign from the Chievo manager function. As the Italian journalist Giovanni Capuano noted: "Only 363 days late".
• From seven wins in a row, to defeat at 4-1 in Atalanta, in which they scored one shot on goal. After the difficult start of the season, Bergamaschi struck very quickly, and Gian Piero Gasperini always seems to know how to get a player in the club that rejected him, but no other club is swinging as violently as from the match with Inter coach. In the first 11 games they lost six goals.
• This result is not more flat, by the way, Atalanta. In addition to several impressive recordings by Samira Handanovic, they were also early player absent in the season from Josip Ilicica.
• "We've been waiting for it" – Eusebio Di Francesco delivers a week's retreat after Patrik Schick obtained his first goal of Roma competition from April.