Juventus out to bring Milan back down to earth
Juventus out to bring Milan back down to earth
Seven-time winners Milan beat Serie A champions Juventus into the last 16 of Europe’s premier club competition with victory over Anderlecht on Wednesday.
But the Rossoneri’s feat in Brussels will do little to hide the fact their domestic form, compared to the Turin giants, leaves a lot to be desired.
After 13 games, Milan sit in the bottom half of the table with a 17-point deficit on Juventus (32), who have a four-point lead on Inter Milan with Napoli and Fiorentina a point further adrift in third and fourth.
Indeed, if not for the goalscoring talents of forward Stephan El Shaarawy, who has a league-leading tally of 10 goals — half of Milan’s total — the red and black would be in even worse shape.
“Is El Shaarawy the Milan team? He’s the one making the difference for them so, yes, I’d say he is,” Juventus forward Sebastian Giovinco told juventus.com.
Juve, on the other hand, could not be more comfortable.
Since suffering their first defeat in 50 games nearly three weeks ago, they have accounted for Pescara (6-1), dominated Lazio in a scoreless draw and left Chelsea’s Champions League hopes hanging by a thread after a 3-0 rout on Wednesday.
In the corresponding fixture with Milan last year Juventus prevailed 2-1 at the San Siro, with Milan holding the Old Lady to a 1-1 draw in Turin in February.
Milan defender Mattia De Sciglio said: “Sunday’s match against Juventus will be tough, especially with what happened last year. They’re one of the best teams in Italy.” Since their 3-1 reverse at home against Inter Milan, Juventus have been virtually unbeatable.
But what is billed as one of the biggest derbies in Italian football will be hard to predict. In their 77 previous Serie A matches at the San Siro Milan have won 26 times with Juve winning 18 and 33 matches ending in draws.
Coach Antonio Conte, whose lengthy touchline ban ends next month, is taking nothing for granted.
A Juventus win tomorrow meanwhile, would extend their lead over Inter to seven points ahead of the Nerazzurri’s trip to Parma on Monday, when Cagliari host Napoli.
Parma, who sit in ninth, will be hoping for at least a share of the points although Inter have at least two reasons to think otherwise.
Inter are still fuming after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to Cagliari last week when they they were denied a valid penalty claim late in the match. Inter also suffered a 1-0 Europa League defeat Thursday to Rubin Kazan.
Coach Andrea Stramaccioni will sit out a one-match suspension, handed down after he insulted the referee following the Cagliari game while striker Antonio Cassano begins the first of his two-game ban, handed down for the same reason.
Fixtures (all GMT)
Saturday: Palermo v Catania (1845)
Sunday: Chievo v Siena, Pescara v Roma, Sampdoria v Bologna, Torino v Fiorentina, Atalanta v Genoa (all 1300), AC Milan v Juventus (1845)
Monday: Cagliari v Napoli, Parma v Inter Milan.
Tuesday: Lazio v Udinese
Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test
- Young Scottish star was very impressive during Liverpool's 5-1 aggregate destruction of Man City in last-eight clash.
- Robertson refuses to take Roma lightly after their shock victory over Barcelona in the last round.
LIVERPOOL: With a desire stoked in the stands of Parkhead, Andrew Robertson is now fired up to fulfil a childhood dream.
While following the fortunes of Celtic, the defender’s first Champions League final memory was when Zinedine Zidane volleyed Real Madrid to success in 2002 as the contest was staged in Robertson’s home city of Glasgow. He was just eight years old.
While Robertson was deemed too small to play for his boyhood idols, released at 15 with a future uncertain, he has grown to prove his worth on Europe’s biggest club stage with Liverpool.
Now, with a semifinal encounter against AS Roma after beating Premier League champions Manchester City in the last eight, he wants to emulate those Reds heroes who lifted the trophy five times before.
“I was a big Celtic fan growing up and my heroes were Henrik Larsson and Co,” Robertson told Arab News ahead of tonight’s first-leg clash at Anfield.
“But these heroes who have won the European Cup and Champions League for Liverpool, you have to look up to them — and we want to emulate them and hopefully get a winner’s medal too.
“The club’s won it five times and the history of the club has always been this, the Champions League, where the fans create a special atmosphere and the club challenges for the trophy. It would be unbelievable to be a part of that history.
“This is the highlight for me so far and an incredible feeling, but it just makes you hungry for more. I don’t want it to end.
“As a kid, you sit back and watch how great it would be to play in this competition, let alone in the final.
“I always used to go to Celtic and we didn’t progress very far in the Champions League, but the occasions at Parkhead were always unbelievable.
“The fans at Celtic are incredible, world renowned, but Anfield was unbelievable against Man City and we have another chance for them to create that same atmosphere and hopefully we can put in another great performance.” Having beaten Pep Guardiola’s City so convincingly, 5-1 over two gripping games, Liverpool will start favorites against Roma.
That is despite the Italians upsetting Barcelona in the previous round with an epic 3-0 win in the second leg after a 4-1 loss at the Nou Camp.
But Robertson will take nothing for granted against a Roma side who last reached the final in 1984 where they were beaten by Liverpool in a penalty shootout at their Stadio Olimpico home.
“Barca are an unbelievable team,” added the Scotland left-back, 24. “But let’s not kid ourselves. For Roma to score three goals against Barcelona, that’s special.
“They’ve been unbelievable this season too in the Champions League and deserve to be in the semifinals. It will definitely not be an easy game.
“But once you get to the semis, the fear of who you are playing has gone because you know how good the teams are.
“It’s like you look forward to the possibility of playing in the final, that’s what drives you forward. We will have fire in our bellies because we are so close to getting there.”
Jurgen Klopp’s men will no doubt be looking to Mohamed Salah to conjure more magic against the club he left in the summer for £36.9 million ($51.5 million). But Robertson insisted Liverpool are no one-man team and the Egyptian, crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night after scoring 41 goals in an unforgettable campaign, epitomizes a team united and ambitious in their quest for glory. “He’s just unbelievable,” said Robertson of the frontman.
“In the first half (of the second leg) against Man City we struggled to get him in the game and he wasn’t quite at it. But the second half he was different class and pops up with a goal to help us win it. That’s what he does.
“His goals have been incredible and long may that continue. He’s a great guy, so humble, and for someone who has done so much this season he’s so down to Earth.
“That’s credit to our squad because we don’t let anyone get ahead of themselves.
“Mo is no different, he’s a lovely person and stands for what we are as a team.”
HEART OF GOLD
Five years ago Andrew Robertson was playing in the fourth tier of Scottish football with Queen’s Park and earning extra money by selling concert tickets in the corporate offices at Hampden Park.
Last summer he suffered relegation from the Premier League with Hull City before Liverpool signed him for £10 million ($13.9 million).
In a career fraught with setbacks and hardships, he has been grateful, supporting foodbanks that help those in need.
“It’s all about giving something back to the less fortunate,” said Robertson.
“I’m in a fortunate position where I do a job I love and get paid well and it’s nice to give something back, especially in my hometown. I’ll always do that.
“It’s been a great journey for me in my career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. But I don’t forget where I came from. Maybe it is rare, but a lot more people are doing it now and I hope even more will.”