Juventus vs AC Milan
Let me begin with a question: just how has it come to this for the club which dominated Serie A for most of the past decade?
For this has been a few days which Juventus will not only want to forget, but a few days which could have ramifications well beyond the end of the current campaign.
As it stands right now, the ‘old lady’ of Turin – she who has delivered so many Serie A highlights and is the most successful of all clubs in her homeland – is a troubled lady.
Just to recap, after a case of false accounting against them was re-examined, so emerged a new ruling of a 10-point penalty.
Announced just before the team was about to play at Empoli on Monday night, the mood could hardly have been worse as they took to the field and were beaten 4-1.
The punishment had already dropped them from second in Serie A to seventh place, outside the European qualification spots.
That, coupled with defeat, leaves them five points behind AC Milan, who occupy the final Champions League spot, with two games to play.
And, of course, the quirk of fixture fate means their next opponents are the club which has benefited the most from this news – AC Milan,
Juventus, by the way, is also involved in criminal proceedings over its accounting practices, with 12 current and former officials potentially facing trial.
On top of that, the Italian Football Federation last week charged the club and seven former team directors with alleged fraud for the way they handled player salary cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.
The club again denies all wrongdoing.
Putting the focus firmly back on the pitch, perhaps targeting fifth or sixth place – and a Europa League or Europa Conference berth – is more realistic for Juventus, who trail Atalanta and Roma by two points and a point respectively.
They can welcome back Juan Cuadrado and Danilo from suspension this weekend, although they remain without the likes of senior players Leonardo Bonucci, Paul Pogba and Mattia De Sciglio.
Milan are near full strength with the exception of Ismael Bennacer and veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
There’s no doubt that Milan have gained the most from Juventus’ punishment this week as, until then, it looked like they may miss out at Europe’s top table next season.
After their run to the semi-finals of this season’s competition that would have hurt.
A point in Turin and they will be all but home and hosed. Whether they encounter an angry home side or a team licking its wounds remains to be seen.
Arguably, their most famous clash was in the 2003 Champions League Final when Milan, managed by Carlo Ancelotti, triumphed in a dramatic penalty shoot-out at Old Trafford.
While a thriller that was not, there have been some thrillers in recent seasons, not least when Ibrahimovic inspired Milan to overturn a two goal deficit to win 4-2 three summers ago.
Earlier this season in the league, Milan ran out 2-0 winners, Fikayo Tomori and Brahim Díaz the marksmen.
Amazingly, the last time Milan won successive home matches against Juventus was 30 years ago – successive victories in 1989 and 1990 when Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit were in their pomp. A scorer in the 1990 meeting, incidentally, was a certain Ancelotti.
They haven’t enjoyed back-to-back victories in Turin since 2011 either.
Yet Juve have won only one of their past six clashes.
The corresponding fixture last season ended 1-1 as a late Ante Rebic header cancelled out Alvaro Morata’s opener – a result which proved important as Milan went onto claim the Serie A title from city rivals Inter.
Overall, Milan have won 52 of their meetings with 69 draws and a further 77 Juventus victories.
Despite everything, the SBOTOP Serie A betting odds still make Juve slight favourites.
I suspect this game will just cap off a miserable week for Juventus.
The hosts have attractive odds, including 1X2 @ 2.33 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.06 and -0.50 @ 2.33, while Milan are slightly adrift – 1X2 @ 2.77.
Another 2-0 Milan win will earn you a pay day @ 18.50 with Correct Score, whereas a repeat of this fixture from last season is on offer @ 5.40 with Correct Score 1-1.
I do think this will be close but that Juve’s faint Champions League qualification hopes will be over by full-time as Milan edge closer to a return to Europe’s top tier themselves.
A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:
⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)
⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)
⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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