Massimiliano Allegri paid tribute to departing heroes Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala, whose Turin farewells ended in a 2-2 draw against Lazio.

The first half was a celebration, as Dusan Vlahovic put the hosts up 1-0 just 10 minutes in before Alvaro Morata doubled the advantage after 36 minutes.

An Alex Sandro own goal set up a tense finish, though, before Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored a dramatic 96th-minute equaliser to put a slight dampener on an emotional evening at the Allianz Stadium.

Despite seeing his side held at home, Allegri only wanted to focus the impact of Chiellini and Dybala to the Bianconeri.

"Tonight was a wonderful evening, full of emotions – the evening of Chiellini and Dybala," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"One stops and has given a lot to world football, out of passion and love of work. A few videos of Chiellini should be sent to Coverciano [Italy's main youth training centre] to show how he defends.

"On a personal and human level, he also left a lot to me when I arrived at Juventus. He introduced me to Juventus and helped me. 

"Dybala was an important player for seven years, I raised him because he was a child and the fans gave a well-deserved tribute. All with great class.

"He has grown a lot, he arrived as a kid, he won the job. He has done great things and I wish him the best. There was so much emotion that I think talking about something else has little value."

Touching on the future of the club, Allegri pointed to some exciting internal development, as well as his theory on what is required at different stages of the season.

"The ideas are clear, then the market can develop in various ways," he said.

"We have to start from the base this year – many will improve like Vlahovic and [Denis] Zakaria. 

"[Fabio] Miretti played with personality and vertically, which drives me crazy. Morata played a good game, the good foundations are there. 

"The matches up to October travel at certain rhythms, from October to March to others. As a child I used to say that when the daisies bloom, the rhythms drop and you need players of great technique. 

"The players must be chosen when they go fast, then to win they must be fast and with great technique."

Giorgio Chiellini asserted it was the right time to end his Juventus career after making his final home appearance for the club, revealing Italy's failure to reach the Qatar World Cup influenced his decision.

Chiellini played the first 17 minutes of a Serie A clash with Lazio on Monday, in which Juve threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

First-half goals from Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata looked set to ensure the Bianconeri marked the Allianz Stadium swansong of Chiellini – and Paulo Dybala – with a win, only for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to equalise with the final kick of the game after Alex Sandro put through his own net.

The 37-year-old defender, who has won 20 trophies during his incredible career with the Turin giants, has made 392 top-flight appearances for the club, a tally bettered only by Gianluigi Buffon (489) and Alessandro Del Piero (467).

With Juventus guaranteed to finish fourth in Serie A after enduring a frustrating season, which also saw them lose the Coppa Italia final to Inter, Chiellini said the time had come for the Bianconeri's young players to take centre stage.

"The decision came in months, weeks, not days," he told Sky Sports Italia. "I have always said that I would like to leave at a high level, and I succeeded. 

"It was a difficult year, for Juventus and for me, but in the matches I managed, I played at my level. 

"All this led me to leave now, to leave room for young people. Juve need to restart, and young people have to take responsibility and mature. I helped to clip some people's wings, now it's right for them to fly alone. 

"I will cheer for them from near or far, and I made this decision with joy and serenity."

The legendary Chiellini has made 25 appearances for Juventus in all competitions this season, 17 of them starts.

Chiellini will end his Italy career after facing Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1, having won 116 caps to date during a glittering career with the Azzurri.

Having helped Italy to Euro 2020 glory last year, he revealed March's shock World Cup qualification play-off defeat to North Macedonia had influenced his desire to step away from both Serie A and international football.

"Of course, I wanted to get to the World Cup. It was the obsession I had after the European Championship," he added. "It is inevitable that I cannot play every match, but I wanted to be part of the national group. 

"It didn't go the way we wanted, which accelerated my choice. [But] I leave a national team and a Juve in good hands."

Chiellini is not planning on retiring, however, and has been linked with a potential move to Major League Soccer.

Although he said he had not yet made a final decision regarding his future, Chiellini hinted that a move abroad would interest him. 

"I don't know. It has attracted me, but for 10 years, I have to decide at home," he added. 

"An experience abroad enriches you, I think I need to see a little outside my life and Juve. I have to understand together with the family, I have to take a look outside, also for my future."

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored a dramatic 96th-minute equaliser as Lazio came from two goals down to snatch a 2-2 draw with Juventus in Turin.

In a match where Juventus paid tribute to departing stars Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala, first-half goals from Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata seemed to have put the Bianconeri in control.

But after Alex Sandro's own goal halved the arrears, Maurizio Sarri's return to the Allianz Stadium ended in chaotic fashion when Milinkovic-Savic fired into the roof of the net with the last kick of the game.

As well as spoiling the farewell home appearances of Chiellini and Dybala, the result boosted Lazio's hopes of beating local rivals Roma to a fifth-place finish in Serie A.

Juventus star Leonardo Bonucci has expressed his admiration for outgoing Bianconeri and Italy team-mate Giorgio Chiellini.

Chiellini confirmed after the 4-2 Coppa Italia final loss to Inter in midweek that this season will be his last for Juve, who the 37-year-old has played for since 2004 and won 20 trophies during his time in Turin.

The veteran defender has already announced he will retire from international duty with Italy as well after a meeting with Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1.

It will be a fitting end for Chiellini after he lifted the Euro 2020 title at Wembley following a penalty shoot-out victory over England last July alongside long-time team-mate Bonucci.

Reports in Italy suggest Chiellini may opt to play in MLS before taking his vast experience into management or a coaching role.

Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed Bonucci will take the captain's armband at Juve for the next campaign, and the centre-back was quick to heap praise on his colleague Chiellini.

The defensive duo won eight Serie A titles together and claimed the Coppa Italia five times, while they also helped Juve reach the Champions League final in 2015 and 2017.

Bonucci posted on Instagram: "Dear Giorgio, where to start?

"I think it has to be from the end. Today is your day and the day the team, these colours, this dressing room starts to miss you. You have been an example, a guidance, a brother, a friend.

"We have shared more than 10 years together, we have rejoiced, we have suffered, we have worked hard, we have closed ranks together, we have fought, we have WON.

"Won a lot with Juve, won something unique with Italy. Being on the pitch alongside you, for me, has been a privilege, an honour. Off the pitch even more so. I have learned from you to be ready for anything.

"Best of luck to you, legend, for what's to come. Whatever it is, you will always do it as the top of the class.

"The invisible piece of rope which followed us onto the pitch will keep us tied together forever in my football battles, in the victories and in the more difficult moments.

"Thank you, captain. I love you."

A clash with Lazio at the Allianz Stadium on Monday will be Chiellini's final home appearance for the Old Lady.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini has declared Giorgio Chiellini's decision to leave Juventus and retire from international football as a "pity for everyone".

Juve great Chiellini confirmed after the 4-2 Coppa Italia final loss to Inter last week that he will depart Turin at the end of the season, ending a 17-year spell with the Bianconeri that has seen him lift 20 trophies.

The centre-back has also already revealed he will retire from international duty with Italy after the Azzurri play Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1.

Chiellini opted to play in the Finalissima, a new final pitting the winners of the Copa America and European Championship against each other, as a fitting conclusion after Italy lifted Euro 2020 at Wembley in July.

Reports suggest 37-year-old Chiellini may accept an offer to play in MLS before taking his sizeable experience into management or a coaching role.

Mancini, speaking at the Prisco Prize in Chieti where he received a Special Jury Prize, was quick to heap praise on the veteran Chiellini as he reflected on the influence he has had on Italian football.

"It is a pity for everyone because he was a great player for the national team and for Juve," Mancini said, as quoted by Corriere dello Sport.

"Unfortunately, time passes for everyone. He made this decision but leaving after winning the European Championship in a race like the one at Wembley is still important."

Napoli talisman Lorenzo Insigne has also announced he will leave Serie A to move to Toronto FC at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old scored on his final home appearance for Napoli on Sunday, becoming the second-highest goalscorer in the club's history as he moved clear of Marek Hamsik's tally of 121.

Only team-mate Dries Mertens, with 148, has managed more goals for Napoli, and Mancini spoke glowingly of Insigne after his efforts in Naples and with the national side.

"He will go on to have an important experience anyway. He gave a lot to the national team and I hope he can do it again," the Azzurri boss added.

With those two experienced campaigners leaving Serie A, Mancini believes it is time for the Italian top flight to provide more young talent to fill the void Chiellini and Insigne will leave.

Mancini and the Italian system came into criticism for not trusting younger players after Italy failed to qualify for a second successive World Cup following play-off defeat to North Macedonia in late March.

"The important thing when things didn't go well is to get up," he continued. "We will have games in the summer and then the Nations League restarts. 

"There are several interesting youngsters in the championship but we would like more."

Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic cited Manchester United's Paul Pogba as an inspiration as speculation grows over a transfer to Old Trafford.

Milinkovic-Savic has played an integral role at Lazio since joining from Genk in July 2015, appearing over 200 times in Serie A.

The Serbia international has again delivered for Maurizio Sarri's side this season, providing 10 goals and 11 assists in the league, while no Serie A midfielder can match his 21 goal contributions.

Meanwhile, no Lazio player has started more Serie A games than the 27-year-old this term, while he also ranks top for tackles (67) and duels won (247).

A creative presence as well as a dominant midfielder, only Luis Alberto (64) has created more chances than Milinkovic-Savic (47), but reports in Italy suggest Lazio are ready to sell their star midfielder.

Paris Saint-Germain and United are among the favourites to sign him, with Lazio's preference not to sell to fellow domestic side Juventus, and Milinkovic-Savic has referenced two Premier League players as his idols.

Pogba, who appears set to depart United at the end of the season, came under special praise from Milinkovic-Savic, while Thiago Alcantara's creativity for Liverpool was also cited.

"Comparisons between me and Pogba? I learned a lot from him at the beginning when I arrived in Italy and he was at Juventus," he told DAZN.

"He is tall like me, has the technique and always makes a difference."

On Thiago, he added: "Against shorter players, I struggle more because I have to lower myself too. Who do I get my cue from? I always look at Thiago from Liverpool.

"I developed some body movements thanks to Futsal, a sport I practised as a child."

Milinkovic-Savic acknowledged he was pleased to continue developing after producing arguably his best season and spoke long term about harbouring Ballon d'Or ambitions.

"My best year? For a few years, the statistics say, I play a little better," he added. "If I feel undervalued? I don't think about this, when I finish the game if I have time I see it again and then I decide if I did well or not, I'm honest with myself.

"In the movements without the ball I have grown a lot over the years. Little by little I have worked and this year you can see the results.

"Five years from now? I don't think so much about the future, I look day by day and I don't think too much about things. Ballon d'Or? Of course, I'd like to win it!"

Simone Inzaghi said Inter still believe they can retain the Scudetto after Lautaro Martinez's brace helped the Nerazzurri beat Cagliari and take the Serie A title race to the wire.

After watching Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, the Nerazzurri had to win in Sardinia to avoid ceding their domestic crown to their rivals, but Martinez followed up Matteo Darmian's opener with a second-half double as Inter claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win to keep their hopes intact.

Inter have now won seven of their past eight league games, but must beat Sampdoria and hope Sassuolo defeat the Rossoneri on the final day to win their 20th top-flight title.

Inzaghi won one Serie A title during his playing career, scoring when Sven Goran Eriksson's Lazio claimed a dramatic title triumph on the final day of the 1999-00 season, beating Reggina 3-0 to overturn a two-point deficit to Juventus, who lost 1-0 to Perugia. 

The former striker says that success is proof that anything can happen on the final day, and praised his team for putting in a composed performance just days after beating Juventus to win the Coppa Italia.

"There is still one game missing, the team believes in it. We know that it has already happened, it has already happened to me," Inzaghi told his post-match press conference.

"We believe in it until the end, and we will prepare it in the best possible way. Today we had a very good game two days after celebrating a trophy. In front of us we had a Cagliari team that was playing for survival and nothing was taken for granted, but I have a great team. 

"I won a Scudetto against Lazio that I was two points behind [with one game left] and Juve lost to Perugia on the last day. In football you must never give up, we have always shown it."

Inter's win means they have taken 39 points from their 19 away games in Serie A this season, the same amount they earned when winning the title under Antonio Conte last term.

This represents the Nerazzurri's joint-third best away return in a single Serie A season (in the era of three points for a win), after they took 49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20.

Speaking to DAZN in the immediate aftermath of the win, Inzaghi had also heaped praise on two-goal hero Martinez after his match-winning performance.

"I think he's got 25 goals this year. He has scored 13 goals in his last 13. The team put him in a position to score, he is a champion, he is very important for us and the team," he said.

"He was good because even in the period in which he was unable to score, he worked hard, and now you can see the results."

Martinez's tally of 25 goals in all competitions this season is at least eight better than any other Nerazzurri player (Edin Dzeko is second with 17), and the Argentine has become just the sixth Inter player to hit 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25 years of age, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi. 

While the striker acknowledged Inter had dropped points in games they should have won this season, he too holds out hope of a dramatic final-day triumph next Sunday.

"We have lost points in matches in which we have done well, but in every competition we have played good football and done the work we wanted," the striker told DAZN.

"The points lost are behind us, now there is one last home game with our fans, and we have to finish the championship in the best way."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli revealed he showed his players an interview with the late basketball great Kobe Bryant to try and inspire them to the Scudetto.

The Rossoneri went within one point of clinching the Serie A title with a 2-0 win over Atalanta at San Siro on Sunday thanks to second half goals from Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez.

Boasting a head-to-head advantage over Inter, the Rossoneri will be confirmed as champions if they avoid defeat when they travel to Sassuolo for their final Serie A match of the season next Sunday.

Inter kept their hopes of retaining their crown alive with a 3-1 victory at Cagliari and take on Sampdoria are home next weekend.

Pioli explained how he is trying to keep the players focused, including showing them words from NBA legend Bryant.

"It's been a year that the fans excite me with their affection," he told DAZN. "How am I living these weeks? In a normal way, because I see the right attitude and the attention you need. And I see my players focused and serene.

"I showed them the interview in which Kobe Bryant said that at 2-0 the work is not finished... and it must also apply to us. We remain focused and determined, there is still a week left. I've forbidden everyone to make plans for tonight."

 

Atalanta kept Milan honest in the contest, having nine shots in the second half as they tried to get back into it, but the leaders stood firm.

"I am very satisfied because we played against a strong team, conceding little," Pioli added. "We were able to find solutions and create spaces.

"My players were good at not losing lucidity and to always believe in them... How do we feel? The [recent 3-1] victory against Verona has given us even more confidence and awareness, every time we try to cover up our defects and enhance our qualities."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was an unused substitute despite the 40-year-old being out of contract at the end of the season, meaning this may have been his last chance to feature in front of the Milan fans, though he has not yet confirmed his intentions.

"I needed other players on the pitch," Pioli clarified. "Zlatan wanted to play but he understood."

A Lautaro Martinez brace ensured Inter will take the Serie A title race to the final day of the season as the Nerazzurri secured a tense 3-1 win over Cagliari.

Having seen leaders Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 earlier on Sunday, the Nerazzurri knew only a win in Sardinia would keep their hopes of a second consecutive title alive.

Martinez scored twice to add to Matteo Darmian's opener as Inter went about doing just that, although they had to work for the victory after Charalampos Lykogiannis halved the arrears in the second half.

Simone Inzaghi's men have it all to do on the final day, however, needing to beat Sampdoria and hope Milan lose at Sassuolo to be crowned champions.

Ivan Perisic forced Alessio Cragno into an early save with a fierce strike before Samir Handanovic got down to his right to stop Lykogiannis' goal-bound effort during a lively start.

Inter were denied a 10th-minute opener when Milan Skriniar was adjudged to have bundled home a right-wing free-kick with his arm, but the Nerazzurri hit the front after 25 minutes when Darmian headed Perisic's fine cross into the top-left corner.

Martinez twice went close to doubling Inter's lead at the end of an entertaining first half, striking the post with a sublime left-footed volley before drawing a close-range stop from Cragno. 

The Argentine finally got his goal after 51 minutes, bringing down Nicolo Barella's long ball before firing home, only for Lykogiannis to halve the arrears two minutes later with a deflected long-range effort.

But Martinez was not done there, producing a brilliant lobbed finish from Roberto Gagliardini's pass to clinch his brace, putting Milan's celebrations on ice and deepening the hosts' relegation fears.

What does it mean? Inter take thrilling title race to the final day

Inzaghi's men ensured an absorbing Serie A title race will be decided on the final day of the season with their win, although they are relying on Sassuolo to complete a league double over Milan to give them a chance of glory.

Inter have now won seven of their last eight league games, losing the other, allowing them to keep pace with a Rossoneri side unbeaten in 15 Serie A matches (10 wins, five draws).

Outstanding Martinez passes 20-goal mark

Martinez's second-half brace proved decisive as the Argentina ace hit 21 league goals in what has been a superb individual campaign.

He is now just the sixth player in Inter's history to reach 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo, and Mauro Icardi.

Cup hero contributes once more

Having scored an extra-time brace to fire Inter to a Coppa Italia final win over Juventus on Wednesday, Perisic was on top form again as the Nerazzurri kept their double hopes intact.

As well as scoring seven Serie A goals, the Croatian has registered seven league assists after teeing up Darmian's opener, with only Hakan Calhanoglu (11) and Barella (10) recording more for Inter this term.

Key Opta Facts:

- Inter have earned 39 Serie A points on the road this season, as many as in the previous term, which was their third-best performance in a single campaign (49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20).
- Cagliari have ended a Serie A campaign with only three home wins for the second time in their history, after the 1999-2000 season.
- Martínez has scored the most goals in Serie A since the start of March (10).

What's next?

Inter host Sampdoria in their final game of the season next Sunday, requiring a win – and a Milan defeat at Sassuolo – to retain their title. Cagliari, meanwhile, need a win over relegated Venezia on the same day to have any chance of survival.

Goals from Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez put Milan on the brink of their first Serie A title in 11 years as Stefano Pioli's men claimed a 2-0 win over Atalanta.

After both sides struggled to create clear-cut chances in a nervy first-half, Leao broke clear to open the scoring, and Hernandez capped an incredible run with a fine left-footed finish to provoke jubilant scenes at San Siro.

Boasting a head-to-head advantage over Inter, the Rossoneri will be confirmed as champions if the second-placed Nerazzurri fail to beat Cagliari later on Sunday.

If Inter do pick up maximum points, Milan will only need to avoid defeat at Sassuolo on the final day of the season to clinch their 19th Scudetto after winning their fifth consecutive Serie A contest.

Sandro Tonali dragged a long-range effort wide as both sides made a tentative start to the game, before in-form forward Leao clipped a tame effort into Juan Musso's arms.

Luis Muriel drew a smart save from Mike Maignan from distance after half an hour, before Leao sent a wild effort high and wide as Milan struggled to create first-half opportunities.

Atalanta went close when Davide Zappacosta's effort deflected over within three minutes of the restart, before Hernandez came within inches of breaking the deadlock when he hit a 30-yard free-kick into the side-netting. 

But Milan made the all-important breakthrough after 56 minutes, Leao racing onto Junior Messias' pass to finish neatly through the legs of Musso, with the furious visitors believing Matteo Pessina was fouled in the build-up.

Hernandez then sealed the victory with a goal worthy of deciding any title race, picking the ball up near his own box and driving towards the Atalanta area before finishing into the bottom-right corner, leaving Milan within touching distance of glory.

Lorenzo Insigne pledged to return to Napoli after scoring on his final home appearance for the club, having agreed to join Toronto FC at the end of his contract next month.

The 30-year-old scored from the penalty spot as Napoli secured a top-three finish in Serie A with a 3-0 win over Genoa on Sunday, taking his tally to 122 goals in all competitions for the club he joined as a 15-year-old in 2006.

That goal made Insigne the second-highest goalscorer in Napoli's history in his own right, moving him clear of Marek Hamsik's tally of 121. Only team-mate Dries Mertens, with 148, has scored more goals for the club.

Insigne has scored nine penalties in Serie A this season, more than any other player in the top-five European leagues, and has hit double figures for both goals (13) and assists (10) in all competitions in his final season with Luciano Spalletti's side.

After the full-time whistle, Insigne was in tears as he told DAZN that Napoli was his "home". 

"I thank all the fans who came to the stadium today to cheer me on, as a Neapolitan it is an immense joy," he said. "In time, the first thing I will do is come back here, this is my home, and you never forget home.

"The love for the city and the jersey is too strong. There are also moments in which choices have to be made. 

"Unfortunately, the club and I made this choice, we are happy, both me and them.

"I gave everything, I have no regrets. The fans have always shown me their affection for me, I will always carry it inside."

Insigne refused to comment on whether he would have preferred to end his career with the Naples club, however, stressing that he simply wished to enjoy his send-off at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

"Now I don't feel like saying these things, I made my choice and the club theirs. We are fine like this. I just want to enjoy this moment," he said.

"Even if I go far away my heart is here. I will come to see Napoli in the stands as soon as possible because this is my home."

Leonardo Bonucci will be the new captain of Juventus following the announced departure of Giorgio Chiellini, Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed.

The Bianconeri head coach was speaking ahead of Juve's final home game of the season against Lazio and said he wants to "combine all three things", referring to playing well while saying goodbye to outgoing duo Chiellini and Paulo Dybala.

Chiellini confirmed he will leave Juventus at the end of the season following their 4-2 defeat to Inter in the Coppa Italia final.

The veteran centre-back has spent 17 years with the Bianconeri, winning 20 trophies during his time in Turin.

Dybala is also exiting the Allianz Stadium at the end of the campaign and has been linked with the likes of Inter, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester United.

"It's the last home game, you have to honour it to the fullest. And then it's Giorgio Chiellini's party and Paulo Dybala's last [game], we have to combine all three things," Allegri told reporters at a media conference on Sunday.

"They are two different things. Giorgio stops or has an experience in America, I don't know. Paulo changes team. Both will have the tribute of the fans, as I believe will [Lazio boss, Maurizio] Sarri, who returns and was the last [head coach] to win the Scudetto with Juve."

As for Juve's next skipper, Allegri added: "The new Juventus captain will be Bonucci."

The former Milan boss was also asked about Paul Pogba, who has been linked with a return to Juve once his contract at Manchester United expires next month.

"Pogba is a United player. Before talking about the transfer market, let's finish the season and then we'll take stock with the club," he said. "We don't have to evaluate not only the market but also what happened during the season at 360 degrees.

"[Do I] remember Paul? I have already forgotten, several years have already passed. I have a full memory card."

Allegri was asked to summarise the season, with Juve qualifying for the Champions League but never really challenging in the Serie A title race.

"I'm satisfied with the path and the goal, but not satisfied to have not won a trophy," he said.

"The team has done its best. Even if I always say, 'let's play with those who are here', in the long run we have paid for traumatic injuries: [Federico] Chiesa, [Weston] McKennie, Danilo, Bonucci… We have players who will certainly grow, then with the club we will improve the shortcomings of this team."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli is keen to retain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who he called "a champion with a capital C", but knows the forward will make the final decision on his future.

Ibrahimovic is still going strong at the age of 40, but is out of contract at the end of the season.

Milan top the Serie A table heading into their final home game of the campaign against Atalanta on Sunday, though they hold only a two-point lead over city rivals Inter.

Should the Rossoneri win or draw and Inter fail to beat Cagliari, then a first Scudetto in 11 years will be confirmed with a game to spare.

Ibrahimovic played a key role in that title win in 2010-11, and returned for a second stint at Milan in 2020. 

Injuries have limited him to just 11 Serie A starts this season, and 22 appearances in the competition in total, though he has still scored eight goals, and Pioli hopes he will be able to call on the Swede heading into the 2022-23 campaign.

"No, I don't think so," Pioli replied when he was asked in a news conference if Ibrahimovic would be playing at San Siro for Milan for the final time on Sunday.

"There are two games to go. Last at San Siro? I hope not, he is a champion with a capital C."

 

Pioli will accept whatever decision Ibrahimovic makes, however.

He added: "My opinion of him is immeasurable.

"I hope that we don't lose him, but Zlatan has the intelligence and the maturity necessary to understand what will be in his future.

"Now Sunday's match is as important for him as it is for all of us, it is useless to talk about his future and our future now.

Milan have won their last two Serie A meetings against Atalanta, after winning only once in their previous 11 (D6 L4). 

However, Atalanta are unbeaten in their last seven away Serie A games against Milan (W3 D4), keeping a clean sheet five times.

Indeed, Milan's last home win against Atalanta in the competition was in January 2014.

Stefano Pioli says he "doesn't care" about Inter's match at Cagliari as he urged his Milan side to focus on their own game in their quest to win Serie A.

the  Rossoneri could secure the Scudetto on Sunday if they beat Atalanta and their city rivals fail to defeat Cagliari.

Pioli's team have 80 points, two clear of Inter at the summit with two games left to play as the fierce rivals battle for the title.

Victory over Atalanta, who are unbeaten on their past seven league visits to face the Rossoneri, would mark the first time Milan have managed more than 80 points in a campaign since the title-winning 2010-11 term.

It would also leave Milan requiring just a point in their final game to win the league at Sassuolo; the leaders boasting a favourable head-to-head record over Inter, who host Sampdoria on the last day.

Head coach Pioli, speaking at a pre-match news conference on Saturday, reiterated that his thoughts remains solely with Milan and not on what Simone Inzaghi's team do.

"I don't care, I'm not thinking about what Inter can do," he said. "We don't need any other motivation because we are already at our best from this point of view.

"We don't have to think any further, we have to think about 17:59 tomorrow, when the match will start. We have to keep thinking only about the match, what will happen next will depend on how the match will be.

"Then what will happen, will happen, we have the strength to be able to determine our own path. I think the team will face the match with great awareness, both of the moment and of their qualities.

"We have overcome many stages, positive and negative, which have helped us to grow. We have been very good up to now, we will have to be better from here to the end."

 

Following Wednesday's Coppa Italia final defeat to Inter, it was confirmed Juventus will finish the 2021-22 season without a trophy for the first time since 2011.

Last season under Andrea Pirlo, Juventus not winning Serie A was in itself shocking, but this season has only shown further regression.

Massimiliano Allegri returning to replace Pirlo after his single season in charge was viewed as a means to halt that slide, but Juve will not just likely finish 10 points off the Serie A title winners and without a trophy this term; the Bianconeri are set to finish with a double-digit deficit in a season where the champions will likely will not break the 85-point barrier.

How much the Turin club spend relative to the rest in Italian football must be brought into context. Granted, the financial impact of COVID-19 caused significant restructuring, but they are still the only club in Italy to have a gross annual payroll in excess of €150million and are joined by Inter as one of only two over €100m. Meanwhile, seven Juventus players make up the top 10 salaries in Serie A this season.

Given that comparatively gaudy expenditure, that represents a spectacular failure – especially in comparison to the likes of the notoriously thrifty Atalanta or this Milan project that has sought to maximise value on the pitch and cut unnecessary spending. The major issue with Juve over the past four seasons has been a dramatically diminishing return on investment, but how has it manifested on the pitch?

Juventus had this inevitable capacity to find a way to win games in Allegri's first stint, but they were still volatile. It would be misguided to look at this season in isolation when in a continuum. Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival for the 2018-19 season – which was viewed as the key signing to propel them to long-awaited Champions League glory – arguably accelerated the regression.

Real Madrid's midfield and Karim Benzema allowed Ronaldo to have a largely singular role as the end point to the team's actions in possession. At Juventus, a player who was largely a finisher and was not going to force defensive collapses between the lines by that point had to take on greater responsibility in the team's build-up. Despite the Portuguese star's stature in the game, he was effectively signed for a task on the pitch he was not capable of fulfilling.

Consider that in his last season at Madrid, Ronaldo was averaging 46.87 touches per 90, and 10.02 were in the opposition's penalty area. The next two seasons at Juventus saw a dramatic shift, where for touches per 90 he averages 54.5 and 56.26 respectively. Touches in the penalty area actually decreased, however, at 6.64 and 6.92 respectively per 90.

With Paulo Dybala as the team's attacking focal point, Miralem Pjanic had previously mitigated the deeply conservative nature of Juve's midfield, but with Ronaldo it became a bridge too far. Ronaldo might have sustained his goal involvements, but it came at the expense of the collective. The Bianconeri came no closer to winning the continental silverware he was brought to Turin to secure but, more importantly, declined domestically and were suddenly challenged for what had become a fait accompli that decade in Serie A.

Pjanic's departure at the end of 2019-20 further accelerates that regression, despite the arrivals of Arthur, Alvaro Morata, Federico Chiesa and Weston McKennie that off-season, as well as Adrien Rabiot, Mathijs de Ligt and Dejan Kulusevski the previous off-season.

Arguably, the additions of Rabiot, McKennie and Arthur have only further reinforced the rigidity of Juve's midfield over the years. Pjanic's final season saw him average 1.21 chances from open play per 90, along with 10.34 passes into the final third and 0.13 for expected assists at 92.66 touches. Not one Juventus midfielder since has been able to match all of those averages individually, and trying to replace them in an aggregate creates different requirements elsewhere.

 

Amid Dybala's increasingly marginalised status upon Ronaldo's arrival, it necessitated someone like Morata, whose fantastic movement and ability to incorporate the players around him is paired with erratic finishing in front of goal. It represents a sizeable trade-off. Still, Morata leads the Bianconeri for chances created (1.63) in open play per 90 in all competitions this season.

That provides some context for this season and Dusan Vlahovic's arrival, because he is almost the opposite to Morata – cold-blooded in front of goal, but much less flexible in build-up play and movement off the ball. Yet, while he creates fewer chances in open play (0.81) than Morata, the quality of his shots (0.13 xG per shot) is still lower than Morata's average of 0.16.

 

 

It all matters because, with the exception of Inter and Lazio, the Bianconeri still keep more of the ball than anyone else in Serie A. They both can and cannot afford for their midfield to be so palpably one-dimensional. While Juventus rank 19th across the top five leagues in Europe for touches per 90 (678.46) in all competitions, they rank 32nd for big chances created per 90 (1.56), and 50th for passes into the final third (53.02), calling into question the nature of their possession and how they actually generate their chances.

With that all in context, it can be difficult to definitively assess someone like Fabio Miretti or where he best suits in a system of play, because it is akin to developing an emotional attachment to a captor.

Yet Dybala's forthcoming departure from Turin at the end of this season is symbolic, let alone if he ends up somewhere else in Serie A.

His career trajectory over the past four years, coinciding with Juve's regression and eventual embarrassment of this season, represents how badly the club have managed squad composition and, to reference Jose Mourinho's famous quote, their Champions League dream that became an obsession. As such, they have lacked anything resembling a plan or clarity, and have been blindly led by ambition to this empty-handed season.

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