Milan-Juventus Preview: Someone's Getting Coal

In Italy, each January 6th, they celebrate the Epiphany with a kindly old witch called La Befana. Much like her jolly and much more popular counterpart, Santa Claus, she brings gifts to boys and girls. However, if the children are naughty, they get coal. How fitting that this match should be played on January 6th, then. Perhaps Irrati will play Befana, giving cards to all of the naughty players. But at the end of the match, win, lose, or draw, someone's getting coal.

For the second time this week, Milan face an ex who was at least at one point considered a legend for the club. Pirlo has since burned a lot of bridges at Milan, and beginning his coaching career at Juventus probably burned all memories of him pretty much to the ground. Some of those fires are probably even still burning. I don't know a single Milan fan who doesn't relish the idea of handing him a massive defeat at the bare minimum. Okay, maybe not Maldini, he's classy, and they were teammates. But most of the rest of us are probably dreaming of Milan winning a controversial penalty in the 97th minute of a four minute stoppage time to win the match, if I'm honest.

Some homeless person has invaded the technical area

As a completely inexperienced coach, and still sporting the homeless look he made popular when he left Milan for Juve, he hasn't completely destroyed the team that won nine Scudetti in a row and has a decreased wage bill this year of only €236 million (compared to Milan's €90 million wage bill.) Juventus currently sit in fifth place on the table, ten points behind Milan, with 27 points. Their match on Sunday saw them topple Udinese 4-1, a deserved but not overwhelming win to gain some dignity after their 3-0 loss to bitter rivals Fiorentina before Christmas. They actually lost six points that day, but the other three points never should have been theirs, they were handed to them when Napoli stayed home because of COVID-19 exposure.

For their match on Sunday, Andrea "Galliani-only-gave-me-a-pen-after-10-years-at-Milan" Pirlo lined up Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, de Ligt, Alex Sandro; Chiesa, McKennie, Bentancur, Ramsey; Dybala and Ronaldo. He will have Cuadrado and Rabiot available again after being suspended, but Morata is injured and Alex Sandro tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The entire team, therefore, had to take a second round of swabs, so there is the possibility that other players could also miss. The irony of Juventus having their three points taken back and then having an important player test positive ahead of a big match like this is not lost on me, especially after the absolutely disgraceful things Agnelli said in October and the way the club behaved the whole time. Karma keeps score.*

Yes, please.

Milan will be missing Ibrahimovic, Bennacer, Gabbia, and Saelemaekers to injury. Tonali is also suspended, leaving Pioli with a less than ideal starting 11 to face Juve. He will have Theo Hernandez back from suspension, which is definitely a boost, even if Dalot held his own on Sunday. However, in the absence of fans, Pioli's 12th man is an unshakeable mentality. The kind that saw the team keep a clean sheet and take all three points on Sunday playing on ten men for most of the match. 

Milan are still top of the table, undefeated in the league, still have a 17 game streak of scoring two or more goals in consecutive matches, and all of the other records we are smashing this season. However, Juventus would love nothing more than to break all of our hearts and our undefeated and scoring streaks. They kind of need to, as well, to have any hope of keeping up with the Champions League contenders this year. Milan need a win to stay ahead of Inter, and most proper Juventus fans would rather have Milan win the Scudetto than Inter. Pioli and his boys have also been very good this year, so I am pleading with Befana to help us earn all three points.

Befana, they've been very good this year...

Because of so many egregious reffing errors associated with this matchup over the past eight years, Milan fans fear the damage Irrati and his ref crew can do to this game even more than we fear Juventus. However, after beating Juventus 4-2 the last time they visited San Siro with some very fair reffing and finally no controversy, perhaps it is time we believe in justice, or at least Karma. The Old Lady have gotten more than their fair share of gifts, maybe it's time they get some coal. Maybe it is wishful thinking, but maybe it is our time. Whether it is the referees, Milan, or Juventus, or all of the above, someone's getting coal.

*UPDATE: After this writing, Cuadrado also tested positive for COVID-19, and Dybala had fever on Monday, despite having had a lengthy battle with COVID last April/May. Despite this, Juventus have traveled to Milano after the second round of tests were all negative (including Dybala.)

Both Rebic and Krunic tested positive for COVID-19 this morning, so will not be available for this match.

This post inspired by the music of She Wants Revenge's "Tear You Apart"

Check out The EPIC Milan-Juve Preview Podcast 

or on Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and more

Rui and Joe give the Milan and Juventus perspectives in a slightly more objective preview
(no referees were harmed in the making of the podcast)

Serie A Week 15
Milan vs. Juventus
Wednesday, January 6 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
This match will be shown LIVE on ESPN2

Milan-Juventus Preview: Someone's Getting Coal Milan-Juventus Preview: Someone's Getting Coal Reviewed by Elaine on 2:08 AM Rating: 5
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