Week 16: Milan – Juventus Under The Pandemic’s Shadow
Week 15 was hectic and eventful. Playing a Benevento team that has been improving and winning points was to present a challenge. Being without several first team players added to the test. Penalties, non penalties, a penalty miss and red made for an unforgettable game. In the end the 2-0 win extended Milan’s time at the top of the table and extended the record of scoring two goals or more to 17 games.
Playing the defending Serie A champions is another proposition. The Juventus team is a changed one from its previous seasons. With a novice coach at the helm and a somewhat younger team the team hasn’t been the most convincing but seem to be close to finding form. Obviously the team is off the pace in the standings in 5th place and 10 points behind Milan, though with a game in hand.
On the day of the match news arrived that Rebic and Krunic have tested positive for COVID-19 and are self isolating. Milan are still missing Ibra, Bennacer, Gabbia and Saelemaekers. Kjaer made a welcome return at Benevento and was a solid leader. Somewhat foolishly Tonali got himself suspended from this week 16 encounter with a red. The midfield if ofcourse lacking in personnel and the most likely option alongside Kessie is Calhanoglu. There are other options and one is pushing Calabria to that position and letting Conti or Dalot play as right backs. Diaz started as a nominal right winger versus Benevento but wasn’t impressive so it is likely that Castillejo will reclaim his spot. This would be with Rebic and Calhanoglu lining up behind Leao but with the virus affecting the team again Diaz and Hauge are very likely to get starts. Calhanoglu was chosen as the Serie A player for the month for December and in the midst of contract talks could yet receive a big raise from his current €2.5 million per season salary. Leao scored a great goal to give Milan the 2-0 lead but needs to be more present and hard working for the whole 90.
Speaking of contract talks. The Donnarumma situation keeps dragging on and despite numerous reports of an imminent signature his agent keeps pushing things back. The player himself has professed his love for Milan but it hasn’t translated to action off the pitch. Fortunately the love has been very evident on the pitch. In front of the young goalie Theo will make a welcome return from his one game suspension.
On Juventus’ side, on Monday it was revealed that Alex Sandro has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this game, it was further revealed that Juan Cuadrado has tested positive as well. There are some calls for caution and postponement of this game but it is likely to go on and Juventus will also miss Alvaro Morata with a thigh muscle issue.
Follow the game as it happens, on the forum.