Week 31: Juventus – Milan
Milan dropped points once again. The tie versus Udinese was a blow in the standings and the stated aim of reaching and staying in the Champions League spots. As it unfolded the rest of the pack are not in much better shape either with all of Lazio, Roma and Sampdoria dropping points. So Milan is still fourth. Piatek, opportunistic and with good reflexes, nodded the ball in just before half time to rescue a lackluster first 44 minutes. The first half had turned into a worrying debacle with both Donnarumma and Paqueta having to be subbed off due to thigh and ankle issues respectively. The 4-3-1-2 that was only practiced for a short time following the loss at Sampdoria three days earlier fell apart with Paqueta’s departure. The second half didn’t produce enough and right after a good chance to double the lead Udinese executed a near perfect counter that ended with Kevin Lasagna beating Reina in goal. The replay had made some fans wonder why the whole Milan 11 were playing so high on the pitch.
The injuries to Donnarumma and Paqueta will likely keep them out for a period measured in weeks. Donnarumma looks to be one who is out for a shorter time, perhaps only two weeks and the Brazilian four or five. The 4-3-1-2 is probably back in the archives and a 4-3-3 back on the pitch. Suso and Kessie whose poor form and minor knocks had kept them out of the Udinese game should be back for this game versus the reigning champions. Juventus are very close to clinching another title but have the additional burden of Champions League matches to come midweek. Will they be fully focused for Milan? The answer is likely yes. Gattuso, who has come under pressure again, may for unknown reasons use Borini on LW and push back Calhanoglu to the left midfield again. Suso and Piatek will join Borini up top and Kessie and Bakayoko will join the Turkish international in midfield. The back four versus Udinese featured Abate. The veteran failed to shine but his replacements haven’t done much better in the last two match days. Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli and Rodriguez are to be the starters.
On the subject of coaching a new name started circulating as a possible summer change. Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, often linked to Real Madrid and Manchester United, is now linked to Milan as the two mentioned teams have decided to move ahead with Zinedine Zidane (again) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Is he a realistic target? Never say never but it is unlikely.
Juan Cuadrado, Andrea Barzagli, Douglas Costa and Ronaldo remain out for Juventus. The latter’s absence is likely the only reason for optimism about this match.
Follow the match as it happens, on the forum.