Had Gennaro Gattuso noticed something in training, the first tremor that predicted emotional volcanic eruptions? Milan's match against Juventus will always give more importance to Gonzalo Higuain, eliminated by Bianconeri following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. However, the words uttered by the manager at his pre-match press conference were heard by looking back.
"The way he experiences compatibility, and how his character is, he needs to try to stay calm," Gattuso said. "Lucidity is needed."
Maybe Higuain felt very clear when he drove Franck Kessié to the side in the 40th minute. It was Argentina who had got his team a penalty, set the time for his operation right to beat Mehdi Benatia to Suso's low center and send the ball against the defender's arm with his first touch. Why is he, Milan's leading goalscorer, not the person who will reap the prize?
Yes, fine, yes, there are a number of reasons we can give. Higuain's record from that place is mediocre. He has taken 17 penalties before in Serie A, and lost five. Kessi's failure rate is one in six.
And then there are memories of miskicks when the stakes are highest. Higuain accidentally overshadowed his sentence on the bar during a shootout which decided the 2015 Copa América for Chile. He has done the same week before for Napoli because they lost to Lazio in what was effectively a play-off for Champions League places on the final day of the season.
Is it unfair to ask for this incident many times? Higuain had found the net in the big game too. Through two seasons at Juventus, he scored against his previous club, Napoli, five times.
But he didn't score on Sunday. Higuaín's punishment was at least on target, which was aimed right at the bottom left corner, but without enough strength to defeat Wojciech Szczęsny. The keeper put his fingers on the ball and pushed it to the pole.
Scoring 1-0 for Juventus at the time, Mario Mandzukic after rising above Ricardo Rodríguez to hit back the back-post header in the eighth minute. It was 2-0 when Higuain made himself sent, in the 83rd minute.
Is that because the successor, Ronaldo, scored a few moments before sending it to the edge? Apart from that, it is clear that Gattuso's statement about the player's emotional state has become a forecast. After being ordered for a violation of Benatia, Higuain shouted angrily before the referee, Paolo Mazzoleni, and was immediately shown the second yellow.
Anger turns into mistrust, anger and a little tears. Both cards are fully feasible from the referee's point of view, but it is striking to see his former teammate – as much as he currently does – move to cheer him up. Together, after several failed attempts, they finally kept him away from officials. Juve Blaise Matuidi kissed the side of his head as he finally started walking towards the tunnel.
The thought returned to Napoli's defeat at Udinese in April 2016. Higuain was on his way to completing the most productive season in Serie A history, but lost his temper at the end of a 3-1 defeat that marked the beginning of the end due to the team title offer. He put his hand on referee Massimiliano Irrati that day and got himself a three-match ban.
Higuain avoided repeating that mistake, at least, on Sunday. He did not hide from reporters at full time but instead made an apology to Mazzoleni and also to his teammates, managers and fans. He also said sorry to officials directly.
Gattuso sympathized, despite failing to heed his warning. He has been there and done worse in his playing days. "Sometimes your emotions fool you," he said, and insisted there was no formal hierarchy when it came to penalties. "The takers are Hakan Calhanoglu, Kessie, Higuaín and Rodríguez. If Kessié and Higuain don't discuss it [on the pitch] today, nobody will say & # 39; Kessié should take it & # 39 ;. "
This result does not undermine his team too much. Gattuso is as conscious as anyone of the talent gap that exists between Milan and Juventus. That The Rossoneri can still feel positive about the direction they are moving, after arriving here behind from seven matches unbeaten in the league. They are only one point beyond the top four.
Juventus extended the best start ever made by any team in Serie A, moving to 34 points from 12 matches. But this is a day for more emotions than calculation. Leonardo Bonucci also faces his former club – or will if Massimiliano Allegri doesn't leave him on the bench.
The context is very different, of course. Juventus supporters, for the most part, felt warm towards Higuain. Bonucci, on the other hand, was welcomed back at the San Siro with a banner stating "only Schettino is worse than you" – a reference to the captain of the ship leaving his post after damaging the Costa Concordia cruise ship in 2012: a disaster in which 32 people lost their lives they.
Allegri insisted that Bonucci's absence from the starting XI was just a matter of coincidence, this match arrived at a time when he felt players needed a break. The choice might be to draw more checks if Higuain had scored a penalty, or if a substitute defender, Benatia, had received a second yellow for the handball that preceded it.
In the end, we still have the same impression as before. Not clarity but quality, and a little luck, that opponents will need to knock Juventus off their path.
• A goal away from home, in the middle of the second half, on the field every bit like dripping as you would expect for a match that had to be stopped for almost a quarter of an hour due to heavy rain. Yes, Dries Mertens, Napoli can really do it on cold and rainy days in Genoa.
• It took Giampiero Ventura all of the four matches (this weekend's results with Bologna were the first to not end in defeat) to resign as Chievo manager. As Italian journalist Giovanni Capuano observes: "Only 363 days late".
• Of the seven consecutive wins, up to a 4-1 defeat at Atalanta where they produced one shot on target. That Bergamaschi has hit the pace after a difficult start to the season, and Gian Piero Gasperini always seems to know how to get one at the club who threw it away, but still, no other club swings as hard from a very good defeat to football as Inter. They have conceded six goals in their first 11 matches.
• The scoreline doesn't flatter Atalanta, by the way. Apart from some impressive saves from Samir Handanovic, they also had a start miss-of-the season challengers from Josip Ilicic.
• "We have been waiting for it" – Eusebio Di Francesco delivered an understatement this week after Patrik Schick scored his first competitive goal for Roma since April.