Giorgio Chiellini superb as the back as Juventus win the Coppa Italia vs. Milan
Though it was a disappointing performance from a record-breaking team, Juventus secured a 1-0 win over Milan to lift the Coppa Italia trophy simply because they had the individuals that could make the difference.
Having won the Scudetto some weeks ago, Juventus have been in celebratory mood ever since, shedding the competitive intensity that has come to define them. Desperate for another trophy, the Bianconeri had to recover their edge to win another trophy yet seemed incapable of matching Milan's aggressive urgency, especially in the first half.
Claudio Marchisio's skill and Sami Khedira's intelligence were sorely missed in a match full of inaccuracies and sloppy play. Hernanes and Mario Lemina were poor alternatives to two men who often make the difference and thus allowed Milan to dominate the midfield and push forward with confidence to take shots at goal.
Somewhat improved in the second half, Juventus played with a little more intensity but the game did not really change until Massimiliano Allegri began to make his substitutions. Alex Sandro's strength, Juan Cuadrado's speed and Alvaro Morata's finishing ensured victory for a team that were far from a well drilled unit on the night.
Achieving the double for a second straight season, Juventus always seem to have enough to secure victory so while we can always hope for brilliance, the fact they can win even when they're average ought to warrant praise. Congratulations to the Champions.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Norbeto Neto, 6 -- After some initial miscommunications with his defence, he settled into the game and demonstrated his strength and ability.
DF Daniele Rugani, 6 -- Winning everything in the air, the defender is playing with a little more nastiness and edge to ensure Juve's safety at the back. Improving steadily.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 7 -- His intelligence and reading of the game is always close to perfect and while he struggled at times, he always managed to stop the opponent.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 8 -- Great clearances and a warrior at the back, always in the right place to make the necessary block. Chiellini has been missed.
WB Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 -- Always can be relied upon to push forward on the right, he slowed the game down too often in the first half as he tried to pick the right pass.
MF Mario Lemina, 5 -- Completely lost in the first half, he occupied the right spaces going forward but suffered defensively, overwhelmed by Milan's physicality. Never in the right positions defensively, he improved in the second half, making interesting runs. That said, he must learn to stand his ground.
MF Hernanes, 5 -- A terrible performance from the player who, in a "director" role, ought to have taken command and imposed his strength. Instead, he was swallowed by the aggressive performance of the opponent. Looked weak.
MF Paul Pogba, 6 -- Overwhelmed by frustration and the excellent defensive work of Juraj Kucka, Pogba surrendered all composure and played with petulance. Often making wrong decisions and too keen to be the hero as opposed to playing for the team, he must rise above his emotions and keep a cool head.
WB Patrice Evra, 6 -- Managed to push forward on occasion but suffered too much against Daniele Calabria's vibrant play.
FW Paulo Dybala, 6 -- Not offered the service he required, he always looks capable of brilliance but when he's the only one who believes in a win (especially in the first half), it becomes difficult to impact the game.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- Worked hard as usual. Always pressing high and keen to provoke errors.
WB Alex Sandro, 7 -- Imposed his strength on a lane that was largely dominated by Calabria before his introduction. Keen to push forward and always looking for a key pass, the game changed as soon as he came on.
WB Juan Cuadrado, N/A -- Impeccable when he came on to the pitch, the player's pace and skill made all the difference on the left, delivering the assist that led to the goal. Annoyingly, he surrendered to tactical indiscipline at the end, making for a nervy finish.
FW Alvaro Morata, N/A -- What talent, what a finish. Morata plays with pace and skill, always knowing which spaces to occupy to ensure a beautiful goal.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.