Here we are again. Less than a week after Juventus-Napoli, new Covid cases jeopardise one of Serie A’s most iconic games: the Derby della Madonnina. The kick-off is seven days away but fans and Serie A lovers around the globe are already concerned about a possible postponement.
Both Inter and Milan have confirmed new cases of Coronavirus in the last 24 hours. Roberto Gagliardini, Radja Nainggolan and Ionut Radu have joined Inter teammates Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni who all tested positive while on International duty earlier this week.
Bastoni is a fellow Italy U-21 teammate of Matteo Gabbia, who also tested positive for Coronavirus while on duty with the Azzurrini who have four cases in their ranks. Their game against Iceland, scheduled for today, was postponed.
Gabbia is the third confirmed case at Milan after Leo Duarte, who tested positive in the last week of September and is still yet to be given the all clear without back-to-back negative swabs. Thankfully for Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has just announced he is negative for Coronavirus.
What will happen now? Will the Milan derby go ahead?
The FIGC protocol is clear: if a team has 13 players available, including one goalkeeper, the game can go ahead. But will it be enough to play the Milan derby?
“Anything can happen because anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has come back positive really ought to go into quarantine. When there’s a first set of positive cases, then second, they ordinarily have to go into individual training routines, so the new positive cases do not infect anyone else. The FIGC protocol is ridiculous when it comes to the issue of isolation,” Professor Massimo Galli, chief of the infectious diseases department at the Sacco Hospital in Milan, told Radio Punto Nuovo yesterday.
“I hope that we can continue to have football matches, but it’s unreasonable to take risks. We should do everything with common sense.
“At the moment, the protocol set out by the football authorities does not hold up to scrutiny. The intervention of the ASL is inevitable and that was made clear by the latest Government decree.”
Napoli didn’t travel to Turin to face Juventus last week following an intervention of the local health authority (ASL) that banned the Azzurri from travelling to the Allianz Stadium.
Juventus expected a 3-0 win by default, but the sports judge has yet to take a final decision.
Meanwhile Genoa, the worst-hit Serie A club by Covid with 22 confirmed cases among their senior team, may have to travel to Verona with their youth team when Serie A comes back after the International break.
“We will go to Verona with the Primavera. The days are passing, and nothing has been decided. They wanted us to reschedule the Torino game for midweek, it’s incredible,” The Grifone DS Daniele Faggiano said yesterday.
Genoa had two players test positive for Covid before their trip to Naples and then a further 15 more cases for a total of 22 after the game. Their Serie A clash against Torino has been rescheduled for November 4.
Meanwhile, the team has self-isolated and has not been able to train regularly. Inter have also had individual training sessions since the first Covid case emerged.
As professor Galli says, anything can happen. On the one hand the Italian Government keeps a close eye on public safety and the increase of daily case numbers, on the other the FIGC wants the protocol to be strictly respected also because the fixture list is already extremely congested and there would be no time to reschedule too many games.
It is still too early to know if the Milan derby will go ahead of not. A lot depends on what will happen in the next few days. Surely, the Serie A protocol is already showing signs of weakness and it is hard to believe it will remain unaltered until the end of the season.
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