14 May 2003
JUVENTUS 3-1 REAL MADRID
Juve were rewarded for their early pressure with a typically classy finish from the World's best striker, Trezeguet. Nedved over hit a cross, Del Piero did superbly well to head the ball back across goal and Trezeguet volleyed under Casillas, who showed a distinct lack of bravery by failing to block, or at least attempt to block. It took Real over 20 minutes to trouble Juve, Guti ran onto a deflected shot and with the Juventus defence appealing for offside he shot straight at Buffon. Del Piero capped off a superb first half performance with another terrific goal. He plucked a ball out of the air with an exquisite first touch, gave Hierro and Salgado motion sickness with a series of dummies before hitting a perfectly placed shot right into the corner of Casillas' net.
Ronaldo handed Real a life-line mid-way through the second half when he made the most of a stupid challenge by Montero to win a penalty. Figo took the spot kick, hesitated on the run up, either that or he was trying to commit Buffon, and Buffon parried. Zambrotta saw Nedved running into a chasm left by Hierro and Salgado, he sent over ball and Nedved thumped a half volley past Casillas. Del Piero could have scored a second minutes later but headed straight at Casillas. In a moment of immense stupidity Nedved earned himself a yellow card when he went through the back of McManaman. He misses the final. Zidane scored a totally undeserved if brilliant consolation goal. Zambrotta should have added a fourth in injury time.
They key to beating Spanish teams is simple. Press them. Juve did just that. Zidane was starved of the space he gets so freely in Spain, typical in fact of his Serie A career. Figo and Bobby Carlos couldn't work the flanks and a half fit Raul failed to trouble Juve. Del Piero gave Hierro the run around all match.
Nedved is a tremendous loss for the final but Juventus can take heart in Milan's poor recent form. Both teams won their home ties in Serie A this season by 2-1. Both teams are loaded with winners, I doubt we will see a cautious, tactical battle in the final but I expect to see a physical one.
Assists : Del Piero, Montero?, Zambrotta, Raul
Juventus win 4-3 on aggregate.
13 May 2003
INTER 1-1 MILAN
Shevchenko scored late in the first half. He received a pass from Seedorf, turned inside Cordoba and made the most of a lucky bounce to lift the ball over Toldo who went down too early. Milan sat back in the second half allowing Inter back into the game. Conceicao wasted a great chance when he blazed over after Abbiati weakly punched out a free kick. A terrible mistake by Costacurta set up a tense finish. Martins ran onto his suicidal clearance and he turned Maldini brilliantly before calmly slotting into the corner. Another mistake almost gave Inter the winner, this time Kaladze, who otherwise had a decent match, gave the ball away with a casual back pass and Kallon was only denied by a brilliant block from Abbiati. Abbiati just kept out Cordoba's near post header and Milan held on for a place in the final.
Just a dreadful match. Lots of dirty fouls. It's a miracle Materazzi wasn't booked. Milan's incessant pressing allowed them to control most of the first half. Cuper's desperate gamble of throwing on Martins and Kallon almost paid off. Ancelotti panicked and tried to kill off the game by sending on Ambrosini and Brocchi as late subs.
Cuper is out of a job and given the way Milan have been playing recently Ancelotti may follow him. It's hard to see Milan winning the cup playing football of this quality.
Milan win on away goals, 1-1 on aggregate.
7 May 2003
MILAN 0-0 INTER
Recoba wasted a great opening when Crespo's flick sent him clear of the Milan defence but he hurried his shot and Dida easily saved. Shevchenko almost caught out Toldo when his cross dipped under the bar. Crespo and Emre combined brilliantly, swapping passes twice, before Crespo played the ball out wide to Conceicao, he floated a cross to the back post but Recoba weakly headed at Dida.
Rui Costa tried his luck from distance twice early in the second half. Seedorf and Kaladze worked an opening on the left flank but Shevchenko failed to make clear contact. Minutes later Inzaghi slipped following a Serginho-esque run by Gattuso. A superb pass from Rui Costa on a counter attack sent Shevchenko clear but he attempted to pass to Inzaghi instead of shooting, his passing stinks. Gattuso, the man of the match, stung Toldo's palms with a fierce drive. Seedorf missed two half chances and Serginho shot straight at Toldo minutes after coming on as a substitute. Crespo almost scored at the death but his attempted lob sailed over the bar.
The referee, Ivanov, let a lot of things go. Had he been officiating yesterday Juve would have escaped without a booking. Inter employed the offside trap to perfection, completely nullifying Inzaghi and Shevchenko in the first half. Materazzi and Cannavaro had superb games, as did the every brilliant Cordoba. Milan upped the pace in the second half but couldn't find a way through. The problem for Inter is that they forgot to score the all important away goal. It's hard to see Milan failing in that respect in the return leg unless Inter are determined to play for penalties.
6 May 2003
REAL MADRID 2-1 JUVENTUS
Morientes went sprawling under a challenge by Iuliano, the ball broke kindly to Ronaldo and he was left with a simple finish. Juve's goal was equally fortuitous, Del Piero, who had a dreadful game, cut inside Hierro before taking a shot, the ball deflected off Salgado and fell to Trezeguet, 1-1. Somewhat against the run of play Bobby Carlos hit a shot through a ruck of players after Juve failed to clear a corner. Despite four players standing in an offside position, though they were not interfering with play, and a linesman's flag the goal stood. Despite some nervy handling by Buffon late in the match Juve escape with a one goal deficit.
Ronaldo suffered a knee injury late in the first half and is expected to miss the return leg. With Davids, Tacchinardi and Montero to return for the second leg, Juve have an excellent chance of making the final.
Assist : Morientes