Juventus fail to give Chiellini the send-off he deserves as Inter end Coppa Italia drought with thrilling win

By Sports Desk May 11, 2022

In the context of a generally disappointing season for Juventus, securing one last trophy for a club great before he begins a new chapter would've at least provided one reason to look back on 2021-22 with a degree of positivity.

It remains to be seen exactly what happens next for Giorgio Chiellini. After all, he suggested on Tuesday that he might not have even been playing football at all this season were it not for Italy's Euro 2020 success.

But remaining at Juventus has become increasingly unlikely over the past few weeks, with a move to MLS – rather than retirement – strongly mooted despite him being contracted to Juve until next June.

In Tuesday's pre-match news conference ahead of the Coppa Italia final, Chiellini – perhaps as you'd expect – at least attempted to deflect the focus from himself, seemingly adamant he didn't want to be the big story ahead of the game.

Yet, regardless of his obvious deflection the day before, it will have been tricky for many to not look at Wednesday's showpiece as the last meaningful match of Chiellini's storied career for the Bianconeri, with little riding on Juve's final Serie A matches of the campaign.

Twenty trophies, 559 appearances – third only to Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero – and countless head injuries, Chiellini's laid everything on the line and dedicated the majority of his career to Juve, even when the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid apparently came calling

But that one last trophy was a dream too far, with Inter ending their 11-year wait for a Coppa Italia triumph by emerging 4-2 victors after extra time.

As far as small mercies go, Chiellini could at least take solace in the fact he at no point looked out of place on the big stage.

Nevertheless, as good a defender as he's been down the years, there wasn't much Juve's captain could've done to prevent his side falling behind in a frantic first half at the Stadio Olimpico.

Nicolo Barella received the short corner and the run of Ivan Perisic created space for him to unleash a sumptuous curling effort into the top-far corner, the ball floating well out of the reach of Chiellini's not insignificant head.

But Inter became strangely negative after getting themselves in front, with Juve crafting several presentable chances as they became the controlling force – Chiellini found himself involved further up as a result as well, a comical fish-out-of-water-like run into the final third leading to a foul by Edin Dzeko.

Juve's superiority told early in the second half as a period of concerted pressure led to the ball dropping kindly for Alex Sandro, whose first-time strike found its way in via a deflection off Alvaro Morata.

Inter barely had enough time to look at the scoreboard before they found themselves trailing, as Juve sprung a brilliant counter and Dusan Vlahovic found the net at the second time of asking.

The game soon entered the realm of Chiellini, whose seven clearances at the end of the 90 minutes was a match high.

Within moments of Juve's second goal, the 37-year-old crucially blocked a cross that Dzeko was primed to tap home – true to form as a full-blooded centre-back, he celebrated his clearance as if he'd scored.

Soon after he was on hand again with a vital header, but like with the opener, he could only watch on as Inter levelled in the 80th minute. Chiellini's centre-back partners Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci tangled with Lautaro Martinez, who appeared to invite contact and then hook his foot around the latter's leg before tumbling.

It was as ingenious as the ultimate VAR-confirmed penalty decision was farcical, but Hakan Calhanoglu converted the spot-kick and Chiellini's night was soon over.

Soon after an important interception/clearance ahead of the lurking Martinez, Chiellini made way, perhaps owing to the knock received in that collision with the Inter striker.

Even at that point there was almost a sense of foreboding. While perhaps not a decisive presence at the other end, Juve were suddenly without their most experienced player and leader – the personality in the side dropped considerably in that one change.

It was fitting that De Ligt – a player who has flattered to deceive since essentially being brought in as Chiellini's long-term successor – proved to be the one to gift Inter the lead in extra-time, clumsily tripping Stefan de Vrij and allowing Ivan Perisic to rifle home the penalty, with the Croatian's spectacular second soon after signalling Juve fans to head for the exits.

As Inter players joyously made their way to the Nerazzurri end of the stadium at full-time, a dignified Chiellini trudged onto the pitch and shared a speechless embrace with Massimiliano Allegri.

While Chiellini helped Juve to more success than most players enjoy in a lifetime, when it came to giving him a fitting send-off, the Bianconeri failed him.

Related items

  • Pavlovic signs two-year contract extension with Bayern Pavlovic signs two-year contract extension with Bayern

    Aleksandar Pavlovic has signed a contract extension which will keep him at Bayern Munich until 2029.

    Pavlovic's current contract was due to run out in 2027, but the club have chosen to trigger a two-year extension.

    The 20-year-old enjoyed an impressive breakout campaign in 2023-24, in which he made 22 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals and providing two assists.

    Pavlovic joined Bayern as a seven-year-old and was handed his debut for the first team in November last year when he came off the bench to assist Harry Kane in a 4-0 victory.

    His club form earned him a call-up to Germany's squad for Euro 2024, but he was forced to withdraw after coming down with tonsillitis days before the opener against Scotland.

    "Unfortunately, this tonsillitis has denied me my dream of playing in the European Championship on home turf, which is very disappointing – but I'm thrilled that my contract with FC Bayern has been extended until 2029," Pavlovic said.

    "It shows the club has trust in me, which I'm eager to repay. FC Bayern is my home. I'm proud, happy and grateful, want to win trophies with the team and continue my personal development."

    Pavlovic made 19 appearances in the Bundesliga this season, winning 15 of those, with the team scoring 54 goals in the process.

    In the 15 games that the midfielder missed in the league, Bayern won just eight times, conceding 14 more goals.  

  • 'I would never abandon Brazil' – Ronaldinho backtracks on Copa America comments 'I would never abandon Brazil' – Ronaldinho backtracks on Copa America comments

    Ronaldinho has declared he will never "abandon" Brazil, rowing back on his previous claim that he will not support the Selecao at the upcoming Copa America.

    Brazil are gearing up for a tilt at a 10th South American title, with Colombia, Paraguay and Costa Rica awaiting Dorival Junior's team in Group D.

    Just 10 days prior to their opening game against Costa Rica in Los Angeles, Selecao great Ronaldinho said he has "had enough" with the team and would not watch any of their matches at the tournament.

    The 2002 World Cup winner said the current Brazil squad displayed a "lack of love for the shirt and lack of grit", adding: "I've never seen a situation as bad as this."

    However, Ronaldinho has now suggested those comments were simply reflecting the stance of many fans and were not his own feelings.

    In a video posted to his Instagram account, he said: "I would never abandon Brazilian football, ever. I'd never say those things you see… 

    "Actually, these words came from real Brazilian fans, they are real comments that I saw on the internet. 

    "Imagine listening to these messages before you play? Motivation goes down... fan support makes a huge difference to the players. I know what I'm talking about. 

    "What our boys need is support at this time. The more confidence we show, the more confidence they will have on the field."

  • Philadelphia Union 1-2 Inter Miami: Afonso hits last-gasp winner for nine-man Herons Philadelphia Union 1-2 Inter Miami: Afonso hits last-gasp winner for nine-man Herons

    Leo Afonso scored an incredible 94th-minute winner as Inter Miami fought back to beat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in MLS on Saturday despite being reduced to nine men.

    Miami's grasp on top spot in the Eastern Conference looked like being weakened when Gerardo Martino's team – who were without both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as Argentina and Uruguay continue their Copa America preparations – fell behind after three minutes.

    Mikael Uhre's one-on-one finish put the Union ahead, but Miami levelled just after half-time as Julian Gressel fired into the top-right corner from the centre of the box.

    The Herons, though, found themselves up against it when both David Ruiz and Tomas Aviles were sent off, the former for a horror challenge on Leon Flach and the latter earning a soft second booking for kicking the ball away.

    With the Union throwing men forward in search of a winner, they were struck with a sucker punch.

    Afonso raced away on the counterattack, ignoring Benjamin Cremaschi to his right before slotting his finish past Oliver Semmle to hand Miami an eighth win in their last 11 games (two draws, one defeat).

    Data Debrief: No Messi, no problem

    Ahead of Saturday's game, Miami had only won three of their 14 matches without Messi since the Barcelona great arrived in MLS (five draws, six defeats).

    However, even without Messi, Suarez or a full complement, Miami showed they are the team to beat in MLS this year.

    Martino's team ended the game having enjoyed more possession (57.4 per cent), shots on target (four to three) and touches in the box (17 to 16) than Philadelphia, despite playing almost 40 minutes at least one player down. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.