Monza’s bet on the unknown pays off with a bold victory over Juventus | Italian Serie A

nEven boss Raffaele Palladino himself could offer insight into his management style at the start of the weekend. “I don’t know him well enough to make comparisons,” said Monza chief Silvio Berlusconi. “He has worked for a while in our youth system. With our tireless support and technical advice, just as we have given coaches at Milan for 30 years, I think he will do well.”

That sentiment was echoed by Berlusconi’s right-hand man Adriano Galliani, who pointed to Arrigo Sacchi as evidence of how good things are when they make “courageous choices” together. Even this, however, was comparing apples to oranges. Saki was already a manager of Rimini and Parma before they hired him for a company Rossoneri In 1987. Palladino spent a year with Monza’s U15 and U19 team.

This wasn’t a straightforward moment to take over the first team. Monza, who is playing his first season in Serie A, has taken just one point from six matches under Giovanni Strupba. The goal difference was minus 11. Oh, and the next match was at home against Juventus.

Maybe Ladino enjoyed those last details. As a player, he spent several years with Bianconeri, they scored goals by payload at their academy, went out on loan for two seasons and then returned to help launch them to promotion from the second division after being relegated as a result of the Calciopoli scandal. Although it was sold a year later, the mutual fondness remained.

More than anything, though, he seemed to be excited about getting his chance to fend for the ground. “I lost my head for this business,” he said after confirming his appointment. “I’m in love with her.” By the end of Sunday, Monza fans will be in love with him.

For the match against Juventus, Palladino adjusted 3-5-2 used by Strupba in 3-4-2-1. The changes in Monza’s form were mostly minor – he pushed Matteo Pesina from midfield and encouraged him to switch wings freely, while striker Dani Motta fell deep in the middle.

Palladino’s biggest innovation was giving Patrick Scioria, who has played mostly as a striker in his career, his first start of the season at right-back. The manager wanted his team to play high and saw an opportunity to do that by being aggressive on the flanks.

Another year, that may have seemed like a reckless daring. Against the mediocre Juventus team this season, even less. Technically, coach Massimiliano Allegri’s team has not been defeated Italian Serie AHowever, they have drawn four out of six, as well as lost two Champions League matches. Recently, Benfica had humiliated them at home.

Monza showed them no respect, setting the terms of participation and deciding where and how the game would be played. The same restrictions they showed during the first six games of the season remained, and scoring opportunities were scarce, but they occupied the parts of the field they intended to do and refused to be overshadowed by the occasion.

Instead, he was one of the most experienced Juventus players to lose his head, sending Angel Di Maria off for throwing his elbow at Armando Izzo in the 40th minute. The first half period provided Juventus with an opportunity to regroup, to rediscover that spirit of challenge that had propelled them to victory regardless about difficult situations.

Rafael Palladino (centre) was the coach of Monza U15 and U19 before taking over the first team.
Rafael Palladino (centre) was the coach of Monza U15 and U19 before taking over the first team. Photo: Nderim Kaceli / LiveMedia / Shutterstock

they could not. Instead, in the second half, Monza came out boldly, rushing to a higher level on the field. In the 55th minute, Palladino sent on Christian Gietker to replace Motta. A quarter of an hour before the end of the match, the substitute fell behind Federico Gatti, the leader, to meet a cross from Sioria at the near post.

Gytkjær was last season’s qualifier champion, scoring two away goals against Brescia in the semi-finals and three times in the two-legged final against Pisa. His goal on Sunday netted his first-ever Serie A win. Eight minutes of injury time in the second half was not enough for Juventus to find a response.

This was a stunning and dizzying result for the hosts, enough to reduce Galliani’s tears. He had missed the goal, following up on a tradition he had started last season by leaving the pitch to pray at Monza Cathedral. This is the city he was born in, and the team he supported as a child. As reported by reporters before kick-off: “When President Berlusconi and I arrived we were in the third division and lost to Gianna and Albinolivi.”

It was a big day for @ACMonza and their fans, look how much they loved it 😍#MonzaJuve pic.twitter.com/jBp1HdGRcG

— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) September 19, 2022

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There is a less romantic way of telling the same story. Monza’s rise to two divisions in the four years since Berlusconi seized power was made possible by the former prime minister’s wealth. They have recruited strong again this summer, signing players like Izu from Turin, Pesina from Atalanta, Marlon Santos from Shakhtar and Stefano Sensi from Inter.

Money speaks but, as their dismal start to the season shows, that’s not enough on its own. Time will tell if Palladino is able to lift them to a level consistently higher than his predecessor Giovanni Stropba, but on a day of remarkable results – from Udinese’s 3-1 win over Inter to Atalanta to continue his unbeaten start with a 1-0 win over Roma, then toppled Napoli in Milan at the San Siro – it was he who achieved the most amazing surprise of all time.

The defeat is not expected to cost Allegri his job at Juventus, although many fans were outspoken even before this result in demanding he leave. Andrea Agnelli has never fired a manager mid-season in his 12 years as club president, and Juventus CEO Maurizio Arrivabene told Dazn before kick-off: “Changing a coach would be a folly. Doing brief trials to find someone to blame doesn’t help anything.”

Allegri, who watched from inside the penalty area serving his suspension on the bench on Sunday, recovered from even worse conditions. In 2015-16 his team at Juventus earned eight points after seven matches but finished the season as champions with 91 points. And this team could look very different when Paul Pogba and Federico Chiesa returned from injury.

Cremonese 0-4 Lazio, Fiorentina 2-0 Verona, AC Milan 1-2 Napoli 2, Monza 1 -0 Juventus, Roma 0-1 Atalanta, Udinese 3-1 Inter, Bologna 0-1 Empoli, Spezia 2-1 Sampdoria, Torino 0-1 Sassuolo, Salernitana 1-2 Lecce

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Cremonese 0-4 Lazio, Fiorentina 2-0 Verona, Milan 1-2 Napoli 2, Monza 1-0 Juventus, Roma 0-1 Atalanta, Udinese 3-1 Inter, Bologna 0-1 Empoli, Spezia 2-1 Sampdoria, Turin 0-1 Sassuolo, Salernitana 1-2 Lecce

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But how much damage will happen before then? Allegri previously said that this season will resemble two separate campaigns – one before the World Cup and one after the World Cup. The point of this first part should, in his opinion, be merely to remain at odds. In light of this, European results look the most damaging, with the very real possibility now that Juventus could be knocked out of the Champions League by the group stage.

For the Juventus board, any competitive considerations are complicated by the four-year contract awarded by Allegri last summer, which put him alongside Jose Mourinho as the best-paid coach in the league. The club is expected to incur losses of more than 240 million euros on its accounts for 2022. As Arrivabene joked to a fan who called on him to sack Allegri before the Benfica match: “Do you pay for the next game, then?”

Juventus thought they were making the safe choice when they rehired Allegri, and they went back to the man they knew best: the one who was there and won everything locally. On Sunday, they were beaten by the club who bet on a man who had never coached a major professional team before.

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