Interview: previewing Milan-Juventus with Mina Rzouki

dybala, kucka, contrasto, milan, juventus, 2015/16
21 October at 16:13

With the Serie A Saturday night blockbuster between Milan-Juventus just around the corner, has interviewed Serie A and Juventus pundit Mina Rzouki to get her thoughts on the up-coming San Siro showdown and to know whether the title race could already be over if the Old Lady manages to secure three points tomorrow night.

Who are the most credible rivals of Juventus for the Scudetto?
“I think both Napoli and Roma have a chance of achieving something special as both play spectacular football.
If Roma can manage to be consistent, playing to their usual high levels in both the big and small games then they are the most equipped side to challenge Juventus for the title. If you had asked me that question three weeks ago then I would have said Napoli have a beautiful opportunity to win something this season but perhaps the loss of Arkadiusz Milik will prove too difficult to bear. While Maurizio Sarri has the intelligence to balance the side regardless of the absences, the emotional devastation felt by a side that has yet to mature mentally may stand in their way for glory.

​They had the opportunity to do something special in the Champions League but the pressure of winning and not committing an error led to an unlikely loss.

I would not discount Milan as challengers for the title either, Vincenzo Montella has proved he knows how to reunite a group and transmit his footballing ideals. He might just surprise us especially as the last time Milan won the title, they too obtained 16 points from their opening eight games.”  

If Juventus beat Milan on Saturday night, is the Serie A title race over already?
“Absolutely not. For one thing, we have already established that Juventus do not play the best football. Right now they are capable of grinding out positive results but that may change as the season progresses and their tightly packed schedule begins to take its toll on the team.
Juventus will drop points this season, the question is, will there be a side that will play with the consistency required to take advantage?”

If you could remove a player from Milan’s squad for Saturday's clash, which one would you pick?
“Without a doubt, Juraj Kucka. While he may not be the Rossoneri’s best player, he has been excellent for them this season. Dynamic and determined, he has shown ambition this season, unlocking matches and providing the quality required to stabilise the side.

He’s also a little physical on occasion which could hinder the likes of Paulo Dybala and prevent the flow of the Juve game. After all, we all saw how well he used to press Paul Pogba, rendering him incapable of winning the duels.”

Which are the weaknesses of Milan that Juve can exploit?
“Defensively, Milan still have problems. While they have greatly improved since the start of the season, they are still capable of committing individual errors and conceding the ball in dangerous positions on the field. If Juventus remain vigilant and concentrated, they can take advantage and win the free-kicks that will unleash the powers of Miralem Pjanic and Dybala.

Wing-play will prove essential as Milan have struggled to defend attacks down the wing. Juventus have been a little careless when playing through the middle while the likes of Alex Sandro and Dani Alves have thrilled in the wide areas to contribute to the attack. As such, Juve should rely on their wing-backs to push forward and create but still remain intelligent enough to Milan’s threats, covering back quickly when required to do so.”

If Juventus could sign a player from AC Milan, which one would you take?
“After having watched Gianluigi Buffon’s colossal performance against Lyon, it’s difficult to imagine a Juventus side without a superhuman between the posts. For this reason, I would love Gianluigi Donnarumma as he has the potential to be the next great icon.

​However, we all know he’s a Milan fan and there’s nothing nicer than having a fan play for your team so in that case I would love to take Alessio Romagnoli. Young, athletic, elegant and responsible, he would make a fine addition to the squad. Played alongside Daniele Rugani, they would provide Juventus with a strong partnership for years to come.”

Best and worst players for Juventus so far?

“Dani Alves and Sandro have proved incredible for Juventus this season, giving the Old Lady wings to fly. While they are both susceptible to making errors in defence, their attacking instincts and desire to stretch play and participate in offensive action has greatly helped turn Juventus into a more threatening team going forward.
Gonzalo Higuain is relentless in his desire to score, demonstrating intelligence and impeccable power while Paulo Dybala’s movement and understanding of the game mesmerises even the most neutral of fans.

A special mention must go to Sami Khedira who proved sensational at the start of the season and whose tactical intelligence holds the midfield together.

Mario Lemina I would say has struggled the most to make an impact on the side. While he boasts skills on the ball, he is not suited to playing in front of defence, directing play -- he does not read the game as well as his predecessors. He’s better when played alongside Dani Alves, allowed to push up and attack more.

As for Pjanic, he has had his moments but he has also disappointed. Time will help him to better integrate himself within Juve’s patterns of play but right now, he is not acting as a leader of the midfield which is what Juve needed -- a big character who could impose his game and guides the players forward”.

​Prediction: What will be the final score of Saturday’s match?
“For me this is a draw as both teams have weapons to do damage and Lyon may have tired the Old Lady preventing a win. 1-1”


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