Saturday 21 November 2020
With the resumption of the Italian League activities after the suspension period due to the international calendar, Italian football fans will have a date with an exciting confrontation between the Napoli and Milan teams after Sunday at the end of the matches of the eighth stage of the competition, which opens on Saturday.
The veteran Swede, Zlatan Ibrahimovic / 39, hopes to continue his distinguished scoring career this season despite the rigidity of Napoli’s defense led by coach Gennaro Gattuso, who played alongside Ibrahimovic with Milan himself years ago.
Gattuso hosts his former team-mates Ibrahimovic and Daniele Bonera in this match, which attracts most of the attention from the rest of the matches of the stage.
“I saw his pictures and you were like his grandfather, because this work is destroying you,” said Gattuso when Ibrahimovic moved to Milan in January to start a new period with the team.
During his first spell with the team, which spanned two years, Ibrahimovic won with Milan the Italian League title and Gattuso was next to him on the stadium before the two players left the team in 2012, after Gattuso spent 13 seasons in the team.
During his current period with the team, Ibrahimovic hit the age factor across the wall and scored eight goals in five matches in the Italian league this season and missed the team in two matches in the championship due to his infection with the emerging “Corona” virus.
Last week, AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli and his assistant Giacomo Morelli were injured, so Bonera had a chance to start his first coaching job at leading the team until Pioli and Morelli recovered.
Bonera, who was infected with the “Corona” virus and recovered from it last month, played six seasons next to Gattuso as a defender in Milan and played alongside Ibrahimovic in two seasons with the same team.
Milan started the season beautifully and topped the Italian league table with 17 points from five wins and two draws, while Napoli ranks third with 14 points.
However, Napoli could have been ahead of Milan in the competition table during the current period, but the team was subjected to deducting a point from its tally in addition to being considered a loser in the match against Juventus for not attending.
The club stated that the health authorities banned the team’s travel to Turin due to the emergence of two cases of “Corona” virus in the team, and the club decided to raise the case before the Italian Olympic Committee.
Gattuso hopes to win against Milan in the match to equalize his score with Milan.
Napoli misses in this match the efforts of its new player, Victor Osimin, who suffers from a dislocated shoulder injury during his participation with the Nigerian national team in the last period.
Sassuolo is second in the competition table, two points behind Milan. Domenico Berardi, captain of Sassuolo, scored one of the goals of the Italian national team (Azzurri) against his Bosnian host in the European Nations League, with the help of his team-mate Manuel Locatelli.
Sassuolo is testing his strength against Verona on Sunday, knowing that Verona has the best defense line in the competition this season, conceding only five times this season.
Sassuolo has so far the strongest line of attack in the tournament this season, scoring 18 goals, even with Atalanta.
So far, Sassuolo, like AC Milan and Juventus, keeps their record unbeaten in the competition.
Defending champions Juventus host Cagliari on Saturday in another match in the same stage.
Juventus is fifth, one point behind Napoli and Rome, and the team is expected to recover in the efforts of its defender Matthias de Ligt after recovering from injury.
Juventus will depend a lot on De Ligt’s potential in the face of Joao Pedro and Giovanni Simeone, the Cagliari strikers, who each scored five goals for his team in the competition this season, while Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo has scored six goals for Juventus this season.
Cagliari captain Joao Pedro said: “It is always good to challenge the best … In the last confrontation against Juventus, we won 2-0 last July, but this was after Juventus won the league title. Now, the situation will be different.”
He added, “We know how difficult the confrontation with Juventus is at home. But we also know the value of winning over Juventus.”
In the rest of the stage matches, Crotone will meet Lazio and Spezia with Atalanta on Saturday, Fiorentina with Benevento, Inter Milan with Turin and Roma with Parma, Sampdoria with Bologna and Udinese with Genoa on Sunday.