9 mins: A promisingly madcap start to proceedings. Kessie nicks the ball off Dybala’s toe on the edge of the penalty area and it runs to Frabotta, who shoots a foot or so high!
7 mins: Bentancur tries a lazy backheel on the edge of his own area, misses the ball entirely and Castillejo nips in to take it, but he can’t find the finish!
6 mins: Milan win a corner, which is played back to Hauge, on the left-hand corner of the penalty area. His low cross-shot looks decent, but it hits a defender on its way and rebounds to safety.
4 mins: Hernandez wins a high ball on Milan’s left, but he gets a bit too much of Chiesa in the process and Juventus have a free-kick, inside their own half.
3 mins: And a shot at the other end from Leao, who cuts infield from the left and sends a low shot across goal but comfortably wide of the far post, with Szczesny able to pull out of his dive.
2 mins: Chance for Juventus! Frabotta gets clear on the left, cuts into the area and cuts the ball back to Dybala, whose shot hits Kjaer and deflects into Donnarumma’s hands!
1 min: Peeeeeep! Juventus get the game started. It’s win-or-bust for them tonight, surely. Time to see what they’re made of.
Right, time to tear my astonished eyes away from the goings-on in Washington and towards Milan, where Paolo Maldini is currently presenting a player-of-the-month award to Hakan Calhanoglu.
“Milan are at the top of the table, they have played well,” says Danilo. “They’ve got a balanced team with clear tactics. But we know very well what we need to do to win this evening.”
This man, contrary to appearances, is happy.
The final whistle has just blown in Naples, where Napoli have gone down 2-1 at home to Spezia, their first win in nine games. Napoli remain fourth, but will be overtaken by Juventus if they win tonight.
Team news is in, and tonight’s starters are these:
Milan: Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjær, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Calabria, Kessie; Castillejo, Hakan, Hauge; Leao.
Juventus: Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Bonucci, Frabotta; Chiesa, Bentancur, Rabiot, Ramsey; Dybala, Ronaldo.
Well, this is exciting. Juventus, Serie A champions in 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20, find themselves 10 points off the lead, albeit with a game in hand and with the season less than half-cooked. Thanks to Inter’s unexpected 2-1 defeat at Sampdoria this afternoon Milan lead the pile, themselves briefly enjoying a game in hand on their two closest challengers, Inter and Roma, and would have a 13-point lead over the nine-time successive champions should they win this evening in the first of three successive home fixtures against Turin-based sides (with Torino next in the league on Saturday, and coming back again in the cup next Tuesday).
“We know the importance of this match,” Andrea Pirlo says. “Milan-Juventus always was fascinating as a player and will be as a coach . We’ll do our best, but I don’t think it’s decisive for the rest of the championship.”
Time will tell on that front, I suppose. Welcome! And here’s the latest league table: