Milan-Juventus Preview: This Seems Familiar

Milan are coming back from the international break missing key players to injury or suspension. Of course we are, because we are hosting Juventus on Sunday at the San Siro. In the first of a daunting run of fixtures where we could really use everyone fit. Of course, Juve are not without their own familiar struggles, with a few players injured and players suspended for both doping and illegal betting. All we need is a scandalous referee performance to hand this match to Juventus, and this will be a cookie-cutter Milan-Juve matchup. Because all of this just seems all too familiar.

Hopefully Milan can triumph over adversity and make that the familiar.

Beginning with Juventus, Paul Pogba has been provisionally suspended after failing a doping test in August. After taking another test for counter-analysis earlier this month, that test also showed elevated levels of testosterone, so he is likely to face a ban of two to four years from football. Also banned for seven months is Nicolo Fagioli, who is at the heart of a betting scandal that has exposed not only gambling addiction amongst a number of young players in Italy, but also a system that is rigid and broken and unwilling to help them. Of course Juventus is no stranger to scandal, having been banned from European competition this season, giving Milan our Champions League spot.

Pioli and Allegri got along fine in LA, then Allegri freaked out...

This season, they are favorites to win the Scudetto, with no European commitments. Although, of course, Allegri had a meltdown earlier this season after Pioli and others suggested that. They do come into this match four points behind Milan, in third place, so maybe he is right. Ahead of the break, Juve beat Torino 2-0 in the Derby della Mole. For that match, Allegri lined up: Szczesny; Gatti, Bremer, Danilo; Timothy Weah, McKennie, former-Milan-midfielder-now-dead-to-me-Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostić; Moise Kean, and Miretti. In addition to the aforementioned banned/suspended players, Allegri will be missing Alex Sandro, Danilo, and former-Milan-defender-long-dead-to-me-De Sciglio. Chiesa is apparently fit enough to make the bench, but likely will not start.

Pioli has headaches of his own. Theo Hernández apparently wanted to be the first player in Serie A to be suspended for yellow card accumulation this season. And just to be sure he was unique, he acquired most if not all of those cards wearing the captain's armband. He earned his fifth yellow in the same match that Maignan saw a straight red, so we will be missing both of them. That is problematic, because Sportiello sustained an injury, which means that Pioli will be relying on Mirante. I mean, he could put Giroud back in goal, but we kind of need him up front.

We haven't seen Mirante in goal since the summer.

Bennacer returned to Milanello this week to resume his rehabilitation, but is still months away, as is Caldara. While Pioli will have both Kalulu and Krunić back from injury, Loftus-Cheek is still out. And Chukwueze sustained a muscle lesion while on national team duty, so he will be out as well. So, if you are counting, Pioli will be missing seven players. But reports say that he has called up Primavera right back Álex Jiménez for this one, and possibly other players, such as a goalkeeper.

Curiously, the toxic Italian media seems to be picking up right where it left off. None other than the legendary Arrigo Sacchi started off the unfounded criticism of Rafa Leão Saturday, saying Leão would not have played for him. But I loved that Pioli fired right back with a very classy but incisive reply, saying that "I always thought Leão was happy to have me as a coach." 

Weah could not stop Leão in the U.S., and the toxic Italian media cannot stop Leão, either.

Corriere dello Sport chimed in, talking about Leão's "goal drought," seeing as how he has not scored in  a month (although two of those weeks were the international break.) I mean, he only got two assists the last time he played 90 minutes in Serie A, and did not score in his two substitute appearances. Such a crisis! Apparently, three goals and three assists in six starts is fine for someone who looks like them, but not someone who looks like Leão.

Much is being made of the four Americans available between the two teams. I am not sure if that says more about the quality of the US men's national team or less about the quality of Serie A right now. Given all of the recent scandals, one has to wonder if it is Serie A's quality that has dropped. For Milan, Pulisic will undoubtedly start, especially given Chukwueze's injury. But Musah faces competition with Adli coming into form and Krunić returning  from injury (although he may not start after being out.)

The state of Serie A? Or improvement for the U.S.?

One way or the other, this match is never boring. The San Siro is sold out, because the fans know this will be a big match. If it is not some incredible performance from Milan to take all three points, it is Allegri screaming or complaining about something, or a referee writing his own place in history for all the wrong reasons. With all of the missing players, and all of the scandal leading up to this, this just seems familiar.

This post inspired by the music of Måneskin's "Bla Bla Bla"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 9
Milan vs. Juventus
Sunday, October 22, 2023 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Serie A provider elsewhere
For example, sign up for BeIN Sports in Australia or SuperSport in South Africa,
they both use the World Feed commentary for Serie A, which is fantastic
(*and they also do not sponsor Inter's kits)

Milan-Juventus Preview: This Seems Familiar Milan-Juventus Preview: This Seems Familiar Reviewed by Elaine on 11:30 PM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.