The weekend in Italy and perhaps world football has been overshadowed by the tragic news of Piermario Morosini’s death during a Serie B match between Livorno and Pescara. The Livorno midfielder suffered a heart attack while playing against Pescara.
This tragic incident should serve as a reminder to everyone, whether players, football fans or people in general, that life is fragile and they must appreciate what they have while trying to make the best out of it.
Moving back to the Serie A race between Juventus and Milan, it must be said that the title is still up for grabs and either club could end up winning the Italian league. Juve’s toughest match will be at home this weekend when they host Roma while Milan’s trickiest encounter will come against city rivals Inter.
The Nerazzurri have struggled and been plagued by inconsistency throughout the season, but surely Inter’s players would not want the Rossoneri half of the city celebrating a league triumph knowing they have an opportunity to put a dent into Milan’s title hopes. Inter’s season has been a great disappointment so halting Milan’s progress might be the only bright spot for the Nerazzurri this season with the two rivals set to meet in the 37th round of the league. This could be a decisive fixture in terms of where the league title ends up.
Below are some of the key elements which appear to be in favor of a Juve title win:
1) Freshness: Juve seem to be the fresher of the two clubs with Milan struggling due to various injuries. Alexandre Pato has barely featured this season with injuries continuing to plague his career while veterans such as Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Nesta have had to deal with various injuries.
2) Lack of Injuries: While Milan have had to cope with injuries to Gattuso, Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng and others, the Bianconeri have been relatively injury-free with minor problems sidelining Simone Pepe, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Claudio Marchisio for a few games. On the other hand, the Rossoneri were also dealt a major blow when the influential Antonio Cassano was sidelined following a heart procedure. Cassano is gradually returning back to match fitness but he clearly has missed a crucial chunk of the season.
3) Coach Antonio Conte: Antonio is supposed to be the less experienced between the two coaches of Juve and Milan, yet his experience playing with the Bianconeri, his work ethic and dedication have infected his players. Juve’s players have displayed the grit and determination which once defined Conte’s playing style when he was the club’s captain. On the other hand, Rossoneri boss Massimiliano Allegri has used the excuse of the infamous “ghost goal” against Juve on a number of occasions which highlights both uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the club’s ability to finish the season strong. Allegri has seen a promising season unravel following the tough exits in Coppa Italia and the Champions League. Confidence in the Rossoneri camp might be low with the players giving a nervous display in their last fixture.
4) Undefeated: The Bianconeri remain undefeated with just 6 rounds left and this is the ultimate testament to the players and their ability to manage difficulties during matches. Juve is the only club still undefeated in Europe’s top 5 leagues (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, B. Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Milan have all lost at least one league match).
On the other side, there are some factors which could play in Milan’s favor to hand them the league title:
1) Schedule: After hosting Roma, the Bianconeri seem to have a fairly easy schedule but Juve’s players have struggled all season to score against the weaker sides and have dropped precious points against those teams. Juve still have to face Lecce and Cagliari, both clubs are at risk of relegation so those will be tricky matches. Milan do face relegation contenders but the Rossoneri have done better than Juve against the weaker sides.
2) Ibrahimovic Factor: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has already managed to score 23 goals and assisted on another 9 goals in just 26 matches. The Swedish star has often carried the Rossoneri whenever they needed goals the most. Ibrahimovic might have a reputation of failing to score in the big matches, but there is no doubt he has been a winner where ever he played. He has won league titles with Juve, Inter and Milan as well as Barcelona.
3) Experience: While Juve appear to be the fresher and fitter of the two sides, the Rossoneri have the edge when it comes to experience with players such as Ibrahimovic, Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Mark van Bommel and Gianluca Zambrotta providing plenty of it. Milan won the title last season so the players are aware of what needs to be done in order to triumph in the league.
4) Talent: This has been mentioned on a number of occasions by pundits and followers of the beautiful game alike, but it must be mentioned again: the Rossoneri have superior individuals when compared to the Juve which is a more harmonious unit. Robinho, Ibrahimovic, Seedorf and Boateng all have the talent and set of skills to turn the result of a match in Milan’s favor.