Juve play catch-up on AC Milan before Barca showdown

Juventus warm-up for their Champions League clash against Barcelona with a Serie A home tie against Hellas Verona on Sunday, trying to close the gap on leaders AC Milan.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s AC Milan, who next host Roma, are flying high, the only team with maximum points after four games.

Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus are coming off back-to-back league draws against promoted Crotone 1-1 last time out and 2-2 at Roma, with two red cards in as many games.

The nine-time reigning champions are fifth in the table, four points behind Stefano Pioli’s Milan.

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo remains a doubt having returned another positive test for coronvirus this week, after missing their 2-0 Champions League win at Dynamo Kiev.

The 35-year-old could still be available against Verona, and great rival Lionel Messi’s Barcelona on October 28, if he tests negative 24 hours before either game.

Juventus are without captain Giorgio Chiellini who went off with a right thigh injury in Kiev, with the team still in isolation after US midfielder Weston McKennie’s positive test.

“There are difficulties, it is useless to deny it,” said Juve’s 20-year-old Swedish star Dejan Kulusevski. 

“It’s not easy for anyone living in this situation. I haven’t been home for almost a month.”

Ibrahimovic has recovered from the virus, scoring both AC Milan’s goals in their 2-1 derby win over Inter.

They host eighth-placed Roma who are unbeaten since losing their season-opener to Verona.

Both sides got their Europa League campaigns off the mark with Milan beating Celtic 3-1 in Glasgow and Roma earning a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Swiss club Young Boys.

“Roma will be another big test,” said Pioli.

“They have great quality and in the front line are among the best, but we have quality too.”

Coronavirus-hit Inter Milan travel to Genoa needing a boost after their derby defeat which left them sixth, was followed by a 2-2 Champions League stalemate at home against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Sassuolo, second behind Milan, host rock bottom Torino on Friday, looking to continue their unbeaten run this season.

Atalanta, in third, lost 4-1 loss to Napoli last weekend and next play at home against Sampdoria, after their 4-0 Champions League win over Danish club Midtjylland.

Gennaro Gattuso’s fourth-placed Napoli head for Benevento after losing 1-0 at home against Dutch club AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League.

One to watch

Argentina forward Paulo Dybala, the scorer of 95 goals for Juventus in five seasons including 68 in Serie A, has yet to make a league start this season as he returns from a muscle injury.

The 26-year-old stayed on the bench in Crotone last time out but came on the second half against Dynamo Kiev, and could feature again against Verona.

“Paulo needs to play to reach peak fitness. He’s getting back to his best slowly but surely,” said Pirlo.

Key stats

14 – Atalanta’s goals in four games

7 – Inter Milan players with coronavirus

4 – AC Milan points advantage on champions’ Juventus



Sassuolo v Torino (1845GMT)


Atalanta v Sampdoria (1300), Genoa v Inter Milan (1600), Lazio v Bologna (1845)


Cagliari v Crotone (1130), Benevento v Napoli (1400), Parma v Spezia (1400), Fiorentina v Udinese (1700), Juventus v Hellas Verona (1945)


AC Milan v AS Roma (1945)



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