AC Milan (+330) vs Juventus (+100), Draw (+264)
Leonardo Bonucci’s move from Juventus (8-1-1, 25 points) to AC Milan (5-1-4, 16 points) was perhaps the most notable Serie A transfer this summer. The seven-year Juve veteran was a pivotal component of the Bianconeri backline, and formed one of the greatest defensive duos alongside Giorgio Chiellini for both club and country. Tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 28) Milan will host Juventus at San Siro for the first time since Bonucci’s transfer. But fans won’t be treated to the vengeful matchup they were expecting when the schedule first came out, as the star defender is still serving a two-match suspension after elbowing a Genoa player.
Both Juventus and AC Milan have had somewhat rocky starts to the season, and many are blaming Bonucci on both fronts. After they splashed €40 million on the 30-year-old, AC Milan had sky-high expectations that Bonucci would pay immediate dividends, especially to a defense that surrendered 45 goals in 38 Serie A-matches last year (1.18 goals-against per game). But the expenditure hasn’t paid off at all. Bonucci is struggling to find his footing with his new club and Milan are suffering because of it. They have already given up 14 goals through 10 matches (1.40 goal-against per game) and sit eighth in the table.
Bonucci doesn’t shoulder all of the blame. The team spent heavily on other players in the offseason, shelling out nearly €200 million in an attempt to reclaim their place at the top of Italian football. Along with Bonucci, they snapped up Porto forward André Silva (€38 million), Atalanta defender Andrea Conti (€25 million), and Leverkusen midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu (€22 million). They hoped the moves would not only improve the defense, but also bolster a middling attack; yet they have improved by just 0.1 goals-for per game this year (from 1.5 to 1.6), scoring just 16 times in the opening ten fixtures.
Saying Juventus is off to a rocky start is only true in a certain context. With 31 goals-for, Juve have outscored every other Serie A side, and they have just one loss in ten games. For most teams, that’s a stellar salvo to a season. But Juventus are accustomed to dominating Serie A, winning six consecutive titles with relative ease. At the moment, they are currently tied for third, with Napoli (28 points) and Inter Milan (26 points) in first and second, respectively.
Serie A is competitive once again and Juventus are at serious risk of losing their place on top, though it’s not AC Milan they have to be worried about. I Rossoneri have not figured out how to make full use of the ample talent in their ranks. Perhaps it’ll all come together for them down the line, but in the meantime, they’re going to struggle against the top teams, and there’s no denying that Juventus are still that.
Pick: Juventus (+100)