Milan face derby day of reckoning as Juve clash falls flat on shabby stage | Nicky Bandini

A shocking pitch, near-empty stadium and a cast full of understudies made for difficult viewing at San Siro

It was supposed to be one of those Sunday night spectacles that define a Serie A season. Milan, second in the table and needing a win to keep pace in the title race, up against Juventus, fifth and fighting for their Champions League lives. Two of the giants of Italian football squaring off at San Siro, the country’s grandest arena.

Juventus were yet to beat any of the teams ahead of them in the table – Milan, Inter, Napoli or Atalanta. But their manager, Massimiliano Allegri, had never lost in 18 career meetings with his Rossonero counterpart Stefano Pioli. This was an occasion for someone to rewrite the narratives. Instead, all the pens ran dry.

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Milan draw with Juventus as De Jong scores late winner for Barcelona

  • Real Madrid battle back from 2-0 down to grab Elche draw
  • Tammy Abraham scores twice for Roma; Bayern Munich win

La Liga leaders Real Madrid fought back from two goals down at home to rescue a 2-2 draw against lowly Elche thanks to a last-gasp Éder Militão goal in stoppage time. Real wasted a golden opportunity to widen the gap at the top of the table after second-placed Sevilla stumbled at home with a draw against Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Real have 50 points from 22 games, four points ahead of Sevilla. Elche opened a two-goal lead with Lucas Boyé netting in the first half and Pere Milla scoring after the break. Luka Modric reduced the deficit with a penalty after 82 minutes and Vinícius Júnior found Militão inside the box in the 92nd minute and he headed the equaliser.

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Milan’s Stefano Pioli: ‘Having fun is fundamental … football is passion’

The coach steering the Rossoneri’s rejuvenation talks about getting the best out of young players and his mother’s critical eye

Stefano Pioli led Milan back to the promised land, guiding a team that used to define themselves by continental conquests to a first Champions League qualification in eight years, but even that could not save him from parental criticism. If the Rossoneri end this season without a trophy, his mother will be waiting to remind him, again, that he has won no major silverware in two decades of senior club management.

“Definitely. Yes, definitely,” he says, leaning in with an unapologetic grin. “And it’s right that she does. In every family there is the hard one and the soft one. My father was the softer one, my mum is the very tough one. That’s how it should be. That’s how you get the most out of someone.”

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Juric’s death metal approach has made Torino a devilish team to face | Nicky Bandini

Ivan Juric has brought the energy of his musical taste to Torino – who are reaping the rewards of a more destructive style

It has been 12 years since Ivan Juric told an interviewer from Rolling Stone magazine that footballers “don’t know shit about music”. The Croatian was enjoying the final days of his playing career at Genoa, soaking up knowledge from a manager, Gian Piero Gasperini, who would become his greatest influence as he prepared to make his own move into coaching.

Still, Juric harboured one regret. “The only other metal-head I have played with in a 15-year career was an Argentinian goalkeeper at Crotone,” he said. “I started at 14 years old with Metallica and Megadeth, then I moved on to more aggressive things. Death metal is my passion, bands like Napalm Death, Obituary and Carcass.”

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European roundup: Lewandowski hat-trick takes Bayern six points clear

  • Striker’s treble comes in 4-0 defeat of Cologne
  • Ciro Immobile scores twice as Lazio overcome Salernitana

Robert Lewandowski grabbed a hat-trick as Bayern Munich scored for a record 66th Bundesliga game in succession to beat Cologne 4-0 and restore their six-point lead at the top on Saturday.

Lewandowski, no stranger to breaking scoring records for Bayern, claimed the opening goal in the ninth minute off a pass from Thomas Müller – after a video review check for offside – with Bayern last failing to find the net in February 2020 in a 0-0 draw against RB Leipzig.

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Roma 3-4 Juve: a magical melodrama with more twists than a HBO series | Nicky Bandini

Seven goals, a red card, a penalty, game-changing substitutions, VAR interventions, injuries and more: this game had it all

Every now and then, a football match comes along that defies explanation. “Was Roma-Juve a comeback or a collapse?” asked the front-page of Monday’s Corriere dello Sport, but those options seemed too narrow. This game was a melodrama, a saga, a whole HBO series worth of narratives crammed into 90 minutes, complete with celebrity cameos and premature farewells to your favourite characters.

Juventus won 4-3, and that was improbable enough. The Bianconeri had been the lowest-scoring team in the top half of the table, with 28 goals to show for their first 20 matches. Roma had conceded only eight all season at the Stadio Olimpico.

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European roundup: Juventus complete comeback in 4-3 win over Roma

  • Wojciech Szczesny saves late penalty for Bianconeri
  • Bundesliga: Cologne beat Hertha, Bochum down Wolfsburg

Juventus scored three goals in seven second-half minutes to complete an astonishing comeback and beat Roma 4-3 after Wojciech Szczesny saved a late penalty to keep them in front at the Stadio Olimpico.

Tammy Abraham put hosts Roma in front but Paulo Dybala made it 1-1 going into the break before goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lorenzo Pellegrini put Roma in charge early in the second half.

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Milan the real winners in Serie A with fixture chaos and rivals’ draw | Nicky Bandini

Four teams went through the charade of turning up for doomed games as Serie A resumed under another Covid cloud

A new year, but hardly the fresh start Italian football was hoping for. Serie A was supposed to return from its winter break with a full round of games on Thursday, but four out of 10 never took place. As Covid cases continue to rise across the country, local health authorities (known in Italy by the acronym ASL) intervened to block teams from attending fixtures.

Bologna, Torino, Salernitana and Udinese were each ordered to quarantine following outbreaks in their respective squads. Their opponents – Internazionale, Atalanta, Venezia and Fiorentina – still each showed up to the relevant stadium and performed the surreal but increasingly familiar ritual of pretending to get ready for football matches that could not happen.

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