Juventus-Milan Preview: Running On Empty

Saturday evening, Milan travel to Turin to take on Juventus after what has arguably been the most difficult few weeks for Milan this season. After being knocked out of the Europa League by Roma last week, our Primavera losing the UEFA Youth League Final on Monday evening, then losing the Derby to Inter Monday night for them to secure what they believe is their 20th Scudetto, now we have to face Juventus. If you recall, last year, Juventus' points deduction was announced the same week we faced them in this fixture. You know, the points deduction and eventual UEFA ban that led to us getting a Champions League spot this year? But I'm sure they've forgiven us. Oh, and we're missing three out of four of our starting defenders, and our Curva Sud are boycotting this match, too. So we face an angry Juve side in their house, while we are literally running on empty.

"All you need is love..." although it didn't help us in October.

Juventus went through to the Coppa Italia Final on Tuesday by losing to Lazio 2-1 (It ended 3-2 on aggregate for both legs). This was after their 2-2 draw with Cagliari last week in Serie A. While there is plenty of debate as to which team has the better squad, Juventus are paying higher wages, €126 million per year compared to Milan's wagebill of only €84 million per year. The one thing most people agree on, however, is that both managers are likely to be sacked for the inconsistent and underperforming performances of those squads.

The son of Milan legend George Weah trips up his USMNT teammate, Musah.

That said, Juventus' Allegri 2.0 currently has Juventus in third place in Serie A, with 64 points. For their match on Tuesday, he lined up: Perin; Danilo, Bremer, Alex Sandro; Cambiaso, McKennie, former Milan player and dead-to-us Locatelli, Rabiot, Kostić; Vlahović, and Chiesa. While he still has two players banned, Fagioli for illegal betting, and Pogba for doping, as of this writing, Allegri has an otherwise completely healthy and available squad.

The other manager who is updating his CV is Pioli, who has been overly criticized for some time and blamed for things that were out of his control, such as the management's decision to completely overhaul the team last summer. But after nearly five years at Milan, the acrimony of the fan base and changes at the club and his ideas to solve the problems that he has been given have all hit a breaking point, and it would be a tragedy miracle if he stays on past this season.

Pioli and Allegri share a moment in Los Angeles last summer, in simpler times.

There is no rest for the weary, though. In addition to missing Pobega and Kalulu to long term injury, Kjaer is reportedly still not fit, and Jović has some sort of muscle fatigue and will not make the trip. As if that were not bad enough, he has three of his four starting defenders suspended for this match: Tomori for card accumulation, and Theo Hernández and Calabria for Derby-related activities. 

This opens up the "opportunity" for Pioli to make more of his trademark "choices" and employ his "tactics" with whatever players he has left plus I imagine a raid on Abate's Army of Primavera players. That means a makeshift backline of Thiaw and Gabbia in the center, with Florenzi likely on the left and Musah, his new Krunić, rumored to play on the right. Although the mysterious Caldara was also called up as a warm body for the Derby, maybe we'll see him, who knows? Many times he has been able to harness the team's mentality and get them to execute his ideas perfectly to pull out a win, especially when really needed for morale or a qualification or whatever. But that has happened a lot less this season, particularly with so many newer players and such an imbalanced squad, as well as so many injuries.

Giroud came up empty last time we faced Juve, can he deliver now that he's decided his future?

This week, it was widely reported that Giroud has decided not to enter renewal talks with Milan, but rather has signed with MLS side LAFC in the U.S. He has been struggling a bit since he was reported to be in negotiations with them in March, and it is difficult not to make the connection between his exit and those performances mentally. I can only hope that he can have at least one really great performance before he leaves, particularly since Milan failed to win anything in his final year at the club.

As if the team were not depleted enough mentally and physically, the Curva Sud previously announced that they will be boycotting this match. Juventus has adopted some the most ridiculous ticketing policies for their away fans in all of Italy, as well as high ticket prices. In protest of this, Curva Sud are boycotting this match. Because the only thing more important to them than Milan is... their own best interests. 

Can we please bring the confidence of pre-injury Thiaw with us to Turin?

I absolutely understand wanting to take a stand, for them and all the other away fans in Italy. Theoretically, Juventus in their pocketbook should be the best way to change their policies. But this is the second year in a row they have done this, and a number of other club's Ultras have also done this, and Juve have not changed their policies. And it hurts their own team more than it hurts Juventus' bottom line, as ticket sales are a relatively small portion of a club's budget compared to, say, television rights. So why not show up, support Milan, and also get on international television raising global awareness about the cause? That kind of PR would hurt Juventus more than a few thousand tickets not being sold for one match. The Curva Sud have been talking a lot about Pioli lately, but it really is past time for the Ultras modernize their tactics, too.

Leão was literally chased by cats Gatti in October.

So, Milan travel to Turin missing a total of five defenders plus two more players, with our number nine perhaps already mentally at another club in another country, too. They will be without the physical support of their fans, even if there are plenty of us who will still be watching them, no matter what the hour or what we have to do to be able to watch them. Pioli has to be hurting, he's given everything to this team and this club, and the media have been so unfair to him, with the fans even worse. But breakups are hard, and there comes a time in every manager's tenure when leaving is the right thing to do. While Allegri is somewhat in the same situation at Juventus, he will at least have 30,000-ish fans at Allianz stadium to cheer his full squad on. It is really difficult to see how Milan will pull off a result in this one, on every single level, they are just running on empty.

This post inspired by the music of Stone Temple Pilots' "Big Empty"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 34
Juventus vs. Milan
Saturday, April 27, 2024 • 18:00 CEST (12noon 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)

Juventus-Milan Preview: Running On Empty Juventus-Milan Preview: Running On Empty Reviewed by Elaine on 8:00 PM Rating: 5
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