AC Milan and Juventus met at the San Siro on Sunday for a highly anticipated match that saw both teams looking to place an early marker on a second-half push for a Champions League place.
It didn’t happen for either side. Instead, the most noteworthy event of the match was an injury to an in-form and fan favorite goal-scorer.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was forced off in the 28th minute because of an ankle injury, leaving Olivier Giroud to lead the lines for the home side.
It’s unclear exactly what happened, and reports on social media seemed to suggest an Achilles tendon issue. That could be devastating for Milan if the injury is deemed to require a longer-term recovery. Ibrahimovic has scored eight goals in 15 Serie A appearances this season, proving a revelation at 40 years of age. From manager Stefano Pioli’s postmatch comments, it doesn’t sound as if the injury is too severe, but its extent is not yet fully known.
“I didn’t see what happened to Zlatan,” Pioli said after the match. “He felt a pain in his tendon, and he blamed the pitch because it was too hard, I hope he can recover in the next few days.”
The early injury was a harbinger of things to come in the match, as neither team was able to get anything going on offense. Giroud, Ibrahimovic’s replacement, managed three shots, with two on target, but otherwise Milan had little to offer. Juventus wasn’t any better, without a single shot on target the entire match. The two teams combined to produce just 0.98 expected goals total for the match.
AC Milan sits third in the Serie A table on 49 points, seven clear of fifth-placed Juventus, but the injuries are starting to mount. The club lost Simon Kjaer to an ACL injury, while the in-form Fikayo Tomori went down with a knee problem. Add in the loss of Franck Kessie to AFCON duty, and AC Milan has seen some key players become unavailable.
Juventus was equally disappointing, with few attacking options. Paulo Dybala continues to show glimpses of his brilliant self but also at times appears broken, while Alvaro Morata was totally ineffective and withdrawn with 15 minutes to go. Mattias de Sciglio and Juan Cuadrado linked well down the right flank, but they had little help. American midfielder Weston McKennie, in his final match before linking up with the USMNT for three key qualifiers, was less involved than Juve would like, with just 34 passes completed for the match despite a relatively even possessional split.
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Juve’s three only offensive options: ball to Cuadrado on wing, Dybala pushing back to get ball in midfield and recently try to set up a McKennie header
— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) January 23, 2022