Hot on the heels of the Premier League, it was announced on May 28 that Serie A would be resuming its season next month.

Italy's top flight is to get back underway from June 20, all being well, with the Coppa Italia semi-final second legs and final to be held during the week prior.

It means four of Europe's top-five leagues are committed to finishing the coronavirus-disrupted campaign, with only Ligue 1 having declared the season over.

Ahead of the return of the action, which includes a true title tussle, a fight for Europe and unease in the bottom half, we look at the story so far of 2019-20...

 

What is the state of play?

It's hardly a surprise that Juventus were top when the season was suspended in March, but this has by no means been a procession towards what would be a ninth consecutive Scudetto.

Simone Inzaghi's Lazio are just a point behind, while Inter, who have a game in hand, are a further eight points back.

Antonio Conte's Nerazzurri were beaten 2-0 by Juve in their final match before the season was halted, but while the title looks a touch beyond their reach, there would be little sense in writing them off entirely.

The race for Europe is similarly close. Free-scoring Atalanta are fourth but only three points above Roma, having played one game fewer, while only five points separate Napoli in sixth and Bologna in 10th. Milan, Hellas Verona and Parma are all in need of some improved form, though.

At the bottom, Brescia and SPAL look to be fighting a losing battle, but no side in the bottom half of the table could realistically declare themselves safe. Lecce are 18th, level on points with Genoa, but it's Torino who are enduring the worst form of all, losing six league games in a row to slide to within two points of the drop zone.

 

What have been the big controversies?

The return of football, for one.

There has been plenty of uncertainty around whether or not Italy, one of the world's hardest-hit countries by the pandemic, would sanction the resumption of the league. Indeed, Brescia owner Massimo Cellino has been outspoken against the idea from the start and branded the decision to declare a return date "crazy".

There is also concern around kick-off times as we move into the Italian summer. Umberto Calcagno, the vice-president of the Italian Footballers' Association, told La Repubblica there was "no way" the organisation would support matches taking place at 16:30 local time in June and July, when average temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celcius.

Even before the league was suspended, confusion reigned. When Parma were due to face SPAL in early March, players were sent back to the dressing rooms minutes before kick-off after sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora recommended all matches be stopped. The game eventually went ahead, 75 minutes late, with SPAL winning 1-0 in front of empty stands.

Juve might be top of the table, but things haven't been going swimmingly for Maurizio Sarri this season, either. The Bianconeri have often produced rather turgid displays and relied on individual brilliance from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo to see them through, and they only won four of their final eight games in all competitions before the enforced break.

Ronaldo's frustrations have boiled over at times. There have been suggestions of discord between the head coach and the 34-year-old, who was angry at being substituted last November and was caught on camera telling Paulo Dybala "We're left alone out there" at half-time of their Champions League last-16 first-leg loss to Lyon.

 

Who had momentum before everything stopped?

Juve's results have been sufficient to keep them top and the convincing 2-0 defeat of Inter on March 8 was a real statement of intent, but Lazio, unbeaten since September in the league, are the real form team.

Led by 27-goal man Ciro Immobile, their run of 16 wins from their past 18 games has come in stark contrast to city rivals Roma, who have lost five of their past nine in Serie A to lose ground on Atalanta in the Champions League race. As for Milan, some bright January form tailed off in February and their season is in danger of petering out, although they are level at 1-1 with Juve after the first leg of the Coppa semi-final.

Lecce's improved form has left SPAL and Brescia looking forlorn at the bottom, but Torino should be particularly concerned - their last points came on January 12.

 

Which clubs have had it toughest during the COVID-19 months?

Although the most high-profile confirmed coronavirus cases came from Juve, where Dybala, Blaise Matuidi and Daniele Rugani were infected, other clubs have had higher figures.

Fiorentina returned six positive tests this month, while Patrick Cutrone, German Pezzella and Dusan Vlahovic were all confirmed as having contracted the virus in March.

There were also confirmed positive tests at Sampdoria, one at Atalanta and one at Torino, while Milan director Paolo Maldini and son Daniel both had the virus.

All clubs have, of course, been hugely impacted by the loss of earnings during the suspended season.

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina said to Riparte l'Italia this week that "more than €500million has already been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown".

Serie A is ready to return, with Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora having confirmed the league will be able to resume from June 20.

There has been no action in Italy's top flight since March 9 and the league is delicately poised at both ends of the table.

Juventus and Lazio are embroiled in a fascinating title race and, though they are eight points adrift in third, Inter may not consider themselves out of the running just yet due to their game in hand.

There are up to six teams in realistic danger of relegation, while Atalanta and Roma are vying for a spot in the Champions League places.

Here are the key fixtures for each remaining matchday.

 

MD28: Brescia v Genoa

If Brescia, who sit nine points adrift of safety, are to pull off an incredible escape they will need to hit the ground running when play restarts. A home match against Genoa, who are only outside the bottom three on goal difference, is a great opportunity to do just that.

MD29: Atalanta v Napoli, Parma v Hellas Verona

Atalanta and Napoli both have to play five of the other six teams in the top seven before the end of the season, so their meeting could play a big role on their momentum in the final stretch. Parma or Hellas Verona – eighth and ninth respectively – could make a late bid for European football with three points here.

MD30: Juventus v Torino, Napoli v Roma

As Juve attempt to fend off Lazio, their first big fixture comes in the form of the Turin derby on matchday 30. This round of games also sees Champions League-chasing Napoli and Roma go head-to-head at the San Paolo.

MD32: Juventus v Atalanta, Napoli v Milan

Another huge match in Juve's title defence comes against Atalanta, who by this stage will be hoping their Champions League bid is still on. Gennaro Gattuso, meanwhile, will face his former club Milan, who will be looking to cement their place in the European qualification spots.

MD34: Juventus v Lazio

There will be only one place to be on matchday 34, as the two title contenders go head to head. With just four fixtures remaining afterwards, it could be the match that settles the title race.

MD35: Lecce v Brescia, Sampdoria v Genoa

The battle for top-flight survival could take some significant turns in this round of matches. The hopes of Lecce and Brescia, the latter of whom face fellow strugglers SPAL the matchday prior, could hinge on this match, while the Derby della Lanterna will take on greater significance if Samp and Genoa remain in precarious positions by this point.

MD37: Inter v Napoli

The success of Inter's season could well centre on a pair of tricky games to end the campaign. If they are able to mount a late charge for Scudetto glory they will certainly have to work hard to see it through, but if it goes the other way they could end up clinching onto a space in the top four.

MD38: Juventus v Roma, Napoli v Lazio, Atalanta v Inter

As fate would have it, the current top six all play each other on the final day of the season and plenty of drama will surely be on offer. The title, Champions League places and Europa League spots could all be decided on an incredible final day.

Serie A has been given the green light to resume on June 20 following a three-month hiatus.

Italy's top flight was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the country's sports minister announced on Thursday the league - and the Coppa Italia - will restart next month.

Juventus are one point clear of Lazio as they chase down a ninth successive Scudetto, while Inter are nine points adrift of top spot with a game in hand to play.

The reigning champions' first league game back is scheduled to be away to Bologna, a week after they take on Milan in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.

Below is the full list of Serie A games still to be played, including four fixtures carried over from earlier in the season.

 

Matchday 25

Inter v Sampdoria
Hellas Verona v Cagliari
Torino v Parma
Atalanta v Sassuolo

Matchday 27

Atalanta v Lazio
Bologna v Juventus
Fiorentina v Brescia
Genoa v Parma
Hellas Verona v Napoli
Inter v Sassuolo
Lecce v Milan
Roma v Sampdoria
SPAL v Cagliari
Torino v Udinese

Matchday 28

Brescia v Genoa
Cagliari v Torino
Juventus v Lecce
Lazio v Fiorentina
Milan v Roma
Napoli v SPAL
Parma v Inter
Sampdoria v Bologna
Sassuolo v Hellas Verona
Udinese v Atalanta

Matchday 29

Atalanta v Napoli
Bologna v Cagliari
Fiorentina v Sassuolo
Genoa v Juventus
Hellas Verona v Parma
Inter v Brescia
Lecce v Sampdoria
Roma v Udinese
SPAL v Milan
Torino v Lazio

Matchday 30

Brescia v Hellas Verona
Cagliari v Atalanta
Inter v Bologna
Juventus v Torino
Lazio v Milan
Napoli v Roma
Parma v Fiorentina
Sampdoria v SPAL
Sassuolo v Lecce
Udinese v Genoa

Matchday 31

Atalanta v Sampdoria
Bologna v Sassuolo
Fiorentina v Cagliari
Genoa v Napoli
Hellas Verona v Inter
Lecce v Lazio
Milan v Juventus
Roma v Parma
SPAL v Udinese
Torino v Brescia

Matchday 32

Brescia v Roma
Cagliari v Lecce
Fiorentina v Hellas Verona
Genoa v SPAL
Inter v Torino
Juventus v Atalanta
Lazio v Sassuolo
Napoli v Milan
Parma v Bologna
Udinese v Sampdoria

Matchday 33

Atalanta v Brescia
Bologna v Napoli
Lecce v Fiorentina
Milan v Parma
Roma v Hellas Verona
Sampdoria v Cagliari
Sassuolo v Juventus
SPAL v Inter
Torino v Genoa
Udinese v Lazio

Matchday 34

Brescia v SPAL
Cagliari v Sassuolo
Fiorentina v Torino
Genoa v Lecce
Hellas Verona v Atalanta
Juventus v Lazio
Milan v Bologna
Napoli v Udinese
Parma v Sampdoria
Roma v Inter

Matchday 35

Atalanta v Bologna
Inter v Fiorentina
Lazio v Cagliari
Lecce v Brescia
Parma v Napoli
Sampdoria v Genoa
Sassuolo v Milan
SPAL v Roma
Torino v Hellas Verona
Udinese v Juventus

Matchday 36

Bologna v Lecce
Brescia v Parma
Cagliari v Udinese
Genoa v Inter
Hellas Verona v Lazio
Juventus v Sampdoria
Milan v Atalanta
Napoli v Sassuolo
Roma v Fiorentina
SPAL v Torino

Matchday 37

Cagliari v Juventus
Fiorentina v Bologna
Hellas Verona v SPAL
Inter v Napoli
Lazio v Brescia
Parma v Atalanta
Sampdoria v Milan
Sassuolo v Genoa
Torino v Roma
Udinese v Lecce

Matchday 38

Atalanta v Inter
Bologna v Torino
Brescia v Sampdoria
Genoa v Hellas Verona
Juventus v Roma
Lecce v Parma
Milan v Cagliari
Napoli v Lazio
Sassuolo v Udinese
SPAL v Fiorentina

Serie A's title race could be decided by a play-off as the ongoing coronavirus crisis threatens an early conclusion to the 2019-20 football season, the Italian Football Federation has confirmed.

Following a government decree issued on Monday, Italy is on lockdown and all public gatherings are banned until April 3.

This development also means all sporting events in that timeframe have been postponed, throwing Serie A – which had previously been due to continue behind closed doors – into doubt.

Should Serie A resume on April 4, teams will have between 12 and 14 matches to cram in before the end of May, while some sides also have European ties to contend with.

FIGC has a limited amount of time to work with too, given Euro 2020 is set to begin in Rome on June 12, meaning facilities will need to be handed over to UEFA well in advance.

Italy's governing body is considering its options, accepting Serie A could either: finish early; be decided by play-offs; or simply halted and the title would go to no one.

A statement on the FIGC website read: "With reference to the recovery of Serie A matches, taking into account that the other leagues [Serie B, Serie C et cetera] have no international deadlines and therefore a wider margin of programming, the federal president proposed to the Serie A league to take advantage of all the dates available until May 31.

"If the COVID-19 emergency does not allow the conclusion of the championships, president Gabriele Gravina has submitted to the attention of the leagues concerned some hypotheses on which to discuss in the meeting of the Federal Council on 23 March.

"Without any order of priority, a hypothesis could be the non-assignment of the title of Campione of Italy and consequent communication to UEFA of the teams that qualified for the European competitions [Champions League and Europa League]; another would be to refer to the rankings accrued up to the moment of interruption; third and last hypothesis, to play only the play-offs for the title of Campione d'Italia and the play-offs for relegation to Serie B."

As it stands, Juventus are top of Serie A with 63 points – one clear of Lazio. Brescia, SPAL and Lecce occupy the three relegation spots, with the latter tied on 25 points with 17th-placed Genoa.

As of Tuesday, Italy is the most-affected European nation, with 9,172 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Parma's game against SPAL proceeded on Sunday despite confusion before kick-off, when it appeared Serie A could be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Players from both teams were in the tunnel at the Ennio Tardini but were ordered back into the changing rooms to await a final decision over whether the match would go ahead.

Kick-off was initially delayed by half an hour before being rescheduled for 13:45 local time (12:45 GMT), over an hour after the intended start time.

The incident came about as Italian authorities apparently considered whether all Serie A matches should be cancelled amid the ongoing spread of the virus in the country.

Speaking on Sunday, Italy's minister for sport Vincenzo Spadafora confirmed he was recommending an immediate halt to the top-flight season.

He said: "It makes no sense right now, as we ask citizens to make huge sacrifices to prevent the spread of the disease, to put at risk the health of players, referees, coaches and fans, who will surely gather together to watch the games, just to protect the interests that revolve around the sport.

"Other federations have wisely decided to suspend football for the next few days. I think it is the duty of the FIGC [the Italian Football Federation] president, Gabriele Gravina, to reflect again, without waiting for the first case of a Serie A player to be infected, before taking on this very serious responsibility."

Authorities had already ordered all sporting events to be played behind closed doors until at least the start of April to limit the risk of infection.

On Saturday, the Italian government locked down the northern region of Lombardy in an attempt to contain the proliferation of COVID-19, which has infected 5,883 people in the country and claimed 234 lives.

People face fines if they are caught entering or leaving the region unless they have a serious reason to do so. All public events, including weddings and funerals, have been banned.

Valencia's Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Atalanta is due to be played on Tuesday without fans present at Mestalla, while traditional pre-match media duties have been cancelled.

Speaking last week, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin insisted it is not the right time to consider "dark scenarios" such as postponing domestic and European competitions or the Euro 2020 finals this year.

"We are dealing with it and we are confident we can deal with it," Ceferin said. "You don't know how many big concerns we have: we have security concerns, political instability and one is also the virus.

"Let's try to be optimistic, not think about dark scenarios – there's time for that later."

Atalanta were in seventh heaven for a third time this season after hammering Lecce 7-2 in a one-sided Serie A clash at the Stadio Via del Mare.

Gian Piero Gasperini's great entertainers put on another ruthless show to extend their winning run to five matches in all competitions, Duvan Zapata helping himself to a hat-trick.

It was the third time this season that Atalanta have scored seven in Serie A, having thumped Udinese 7-1 in October and thrashed Torino 7-0 away from home in January and have now amassed 70 goals in 25 matches.

They also become the first team since Milan way back in 1958-59 to score five or more goals in five Serie A encounters in the same season.

Zapata's treble ensured fourth-placed Atalanta have three players with a double-figure goal tally in the current campaign.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are the other only sides in the top-five European leagues to have three players with at least 10 goals this season.

Italy prime minister Giuseppe Conte revealed all of Serie A's Week 26 fixtures, including the blockbuster showdown between Juventus and Inter, could be postponed due to coronavirus fears.

The outbreak of coronavirus in Italy forced four top-flight matches to be postponed over the weekend, including Sunday's clash between Scudetto hopefuls Inter and Sampdoria.

Italy's move came as part of preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 which originated in China, after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Now, upcoming fixtures across Italy's leagues are in doubt, with Serie A leaders Juve scheduled to host Inter in Turin on March 1.

"I don't think that in just one week we'd be able to slow down the contagion so much that we could resume sporting events," Conte told Rai.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation and will evaluate. We'll see the evolution of the contagion and evaluate postponing all next week's matches."

Juve are a point clear atop the table following Saturday's 2-1 victory away at bottom side SPAL.

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th career appearance with a goal, scoring in an 11th consecutive top-flight match – matching a feat previously achieved by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

In-form Lazio were also in action on Saturday and edged Genoa 3-2 to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games, while Inter are six points off the pace with a game in hand.

Inter have confirmed Marcelo Brozovic sustained a sprained ankle in the 1-1 Serie A draw with Lecce on Sunday.

The midfielder was substituted with eight minutes of normal time remaining at the Via Del Mare after a clash with Alessandro Deiola.

The Croatia international had an MRI scan on Tuesday, with Inter confirming: "The tests revealed a sprain to his left ankle. The player will be assessed on a day-by-day basis."

Brozovic's injury is said to be part of the reason Inter have stepped up plans to sign Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen this month.

Sporting director Piero Ausilio said on Monday that a bid for the playmaker had been lodged, although Spurs boss Jose Mourinho intends to have Eriksen in his squad for Wednesday's Premier League game against Norwich City.

Brozovic has played in all but one of Inter's 27 matches in all competitions this season, scoring twice.

Antonio Conte's side are second in Serie A, four points behind champions Juventus.

Antonio Conte felt Inter were sluggish in a 1-1 draw at Lecce and warned the Nerazzurri cannot afford to dip below 200 kilometres per hour in their intensity.

Inter had the opportunity to return to the top of Serie A, at least until Juventus played later on Sunday, but toiled to a second successive league draw.

Substitute Alessandro Bastoni scored his first Nerazzurri goal to seemingly set the away side on course for a scrappy win 19 minutes from time, only for Marco Mancosu to hit back.

Conte was disappointed with the lack of vigour in his side's display, claiming they are merely "a normal team" when playing at that level.

"The draw stems from the fact that we must always go at 200 [km] an hour," he said.

"When someone is below that, we cannot afford it. Then the level of the team drops and it can happen that you draw a game that you should have taken three points from.

"We are not a team that manages to bring home the victory going at an average speed. We must always go to the maximum - we have done so in all the matches of the first half of the season.

"When we can't get to the maximum, we are a normal team."

Conte was called out by Jose Mourinho earlier in the week amid the perception he had openly discussed Inter's interest in Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta spoke about Eriksen on Sunday, but Conte was not willing to follow suit.

"This month is difficult to manage. I think I have been very clear - even if sometimes the things I say are then exploited," he said. "I don't want to talk about the market.

"That is for the club - I am the coach and I have to try to bring out the best in my players."

Inter were held for the second consecutive Serie A match as a 1-1 draw at Lecce handed reigning champions Juventus an unexpected boost in the title race.

Antonio Conte's men started 2020 with an impressive defeat of Napoli, but they only took a point against Atalanta last week and again failed to register a victory on Sunday.

It had briefly appeared as though 20-year-old defender Alessandro Bastoni would prove the unlikely hero when he headed in the opener - his first goal for the club - three minutes after arriving from the bench.

However, Lecce captain Marco Mancosu steered past Samir Handanovic with 13 minutes remaining, meaning Juve can go four points clear at the summit by beating Parma later in the day.

Inter made a bright start but Mancosu was guilty of a glaring miss with seven minutes on the clock, blazing over after reaching Khouma Babacar's stooping header uncontested at the far post.

The busy Romelu Lukaku saw an opener ruled out for a foul and then teed up Marcelo Brozovic, whose curling effort wrongfooted Gabriel but bounced away off the right-hand post.

Lecce were frustrated in the final moments of the first half when a penalty decision in their favour was overturned, referee Piero Giacomelli visiting the pitchside monitor before deciding Stefano Sensi's arm was in a natural position at his side as he handled in the area.

An open, entertaining spell following the interval was punctuated only by routine stops at either end and Inter were slow to reclaim full control of the contest.

But Diego Godin was replaced by Bastoni 22 minutes from time and the new man directed a header from Cristiano Biraghi's left-wing cross inside the near post.

Lecce's response was strong, however, and Mancosu got in front of Bastoni to finish coolly from substitute Zan Majer's delivery.

Filippo Falco - another introduction from the bench - could have stolen all three points, but his 81st-minute free-kick hit the outside of the post.

 

What does it mean? Standards slipping for Inter

Inter won 14 of their first 18 Serie A games this season but have now drawn two in a row. While there was certainly no shame in coming up short against Atalanta, victory was expected here. The Nerazzurri struggled to break down Lecce, and perhaps Conte will look to the transfer market for creative inspiration - potentially in the form of Christian Eriksen.

Babacar battles

The Lecce striker failed to add to his Serie A tally of four goals against Inter - his joint-best such record in the competition - but worked manfully up front, having a hand in several of the hosts' best moments.

Martinez muted

Lautaro Martinez has formed one half of one of the most exciting, effective strike partnerships in European football this season, but this was not his day. The Argentina forward had little say in proceedings early on, and belated efforts in the second period came from distance and scarcely troubled Gabriel.

What's next?

There is a clear week for both sides before Serie A action continues next weekend. Inter host Cagliari on Sunday shortly before Lecce visit Hellas Verona.

Maurizio Sarri confirmed Gonzalo Higuain was conscious and lucid after a blow to the head left the Juventus striker needing a stretcher at full-time in a 1-1 draw with Lecce.

Higuain came off worse in an aerial collision with goalkeeper Gabriel late in Saturday's entertaining Serie A match at Stadio Via del Mare.

Medical staff applied bandages to the Argentinian's bloodied head and he completed the match as normal, unleashing multiple shots as the visitors attempted to reclaim the lead.

His condition reportedly worsened after the final whistle and he had to be carried from the pitch.

"Gonzalo is having stitches, then they will decide whether to take him to the hospital," Sarri said in a post-match interview with Sky Sport Italia.

"He is conscious and responding clearly. I think he will come back with us [to Turin]."

Juve earlier lost Miralem Pjanic to a muscle problem on a costly day.

Sarri's decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo from the matchday squad backfired badly as the Bianconeri wasted numerous chances either side of Paulo Dybala's 50th-minute penalty.

Matthijs de Ligt's inadvertent handball allowed Marco Mancosu to equalise from the spot six minutes later and Lecce held firm under pressure to register their first home point of the season.

Sarri said: "Ronaldo was tired physically and mentally. Bringing him here would not have allowed him to recover.

"When a player becomes fatigued, then it's right to let him rest. It was something he also felt. The fact remains we produced 10 scoring opportunities and didn't finish them."

The draw marked the second time Juve have dropped points under Sarri in Serie A, the champions having settled for a stalemate against Fiorentina in September.

Maurizio Sarri's decision to rest Cristiano Ronaldo backfired as Juventus were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at promoted Lecce.

Matthijs de Ligt's handball enabled Marco Mancosu to score from the spot in the 56th minute and earn the hosts their first home point of the Serie A season at Stadio Via del Mare.

Paulo Dybala, the hero of Juve's midweek Champions League win over Lokomotiv Moscow, had not long earlier opened the scoring with a spot kick of his own.

But there was no late saviour for Sarri's men on this occasion, the loss of Miralem Pjanic to a muscle problem compounding a result that will force them back into second place if Inter beat Parma later on Saturday.

Juve felt aggrieved not to be awarded an early penalty for Panagiotis Tachtsidis' trip on Emre Can.

Further appeals were waved away when Danilo went down under close attention from Marco Calderoni.

Gonzalo Higuain did turn home Alex Sandro's angled drive in the 15th minute, but the goal was disallowed for offside following a VAR review.

The striker then guided a low shot across the face before Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel denied Dybala amid sustained Juve pressure.

There was no stopping the Argentina international from 12 yards five minutes after the interval, referee Paolo Valeri having finally pointed to the spot after replays confirmed Jacopo Petriccione's challenge on Pjanic took place in the box.

A second spot-kick quickly followed as Calderoni's cross from the left fizzed against De Ligt's arm.

Lecce captain Mancosu made no mistake and the Bianconeri's problems soon grew greater, with Federico Bernardeschi's failure to score after rounding Gabriel preceding Pjanic's forced withdrawal.

An injury issue for Mancosu effectively left Lecce, who had used up their substitutes, to defend with 10 men for the final 15 minutes.

But Leonardo Bonucci's errant volley was the closest Juve came to capitalising, the point ultimately edging them two ahead of second-placed Inter.

 

Miralem Pjanic limped off midway through Juventus' Serie A game at Lecce on Saturday with a suspected hamstring injury.

The playmaker pulled up sharply before requiring medical attention and left the field very gingerly 67 minutes in.

Serie A champions had been pegged back to 1-1 after Marco Mancosu's 56th-minute penalty cancelled out Paulo Dybala's own successful conversion from 12 yards.

Pjanic has featured in every competitive game for Juventus this season, proving himself to be pivotal during the early stages of Maurizio Sarri's reign.

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli bemoaned his team's mistakes in a disappointing last-gasp draw at home to lowly Lecce, though he believes the Rossoneri can learn from the result.

Pioli's reign as Milan coach got off to an underwhelming start following Sunday's 2-2 draw with Lecce at San Siro, where the visitors scored a stunning 92nd-minute equaliser.

The appointment of former Inter boss Pioli to replace Marco Giampaolo was an already unpopular decision among fans and the 54-year-old's debut in the Milan dugout did little to endear himself to the Rossoneri faithful.

Reflecting on his bow, which looked on track thanks to goals from Hakan Calhanoglu and substitute Krzysztof Piatek before Marco Calderoni's stoppage-time leveller, birthday boy Pioli told Sky Sport Italia: "It's a pity, there were positives, but we wanted the win and didn't get it because of our mistakes. I saw some good moves, quality and spirit, but if you leave the game open, you can have a nasty surprise at the end.

"Milan players are well aware of their capabilities and the fact they are wearing a prestigious jersey. They will be able to judge their own performances and we'll analyse them carefully, but in a way we paid for our generosity, as we ran after the ball and didn't keep an eye on other players. I think we had deserved to win it.

"Some of the positions we took were positive, others not so much. We tried to build from the back with a three-man defence, but that can change with a different opponent such as Roma next week.

"After only a few days of training, I did see some of the ideas we had worked on and that bodes well for the future, even if there is a lot of work to be done. I had hoped for a gift this evening for my birthday, but I saw some good things and I hope we can learn from these mistakes."

The result left Milan with just one win from their past five league fixtures and languishing in 12th position – six points adrift of fourth-placed Napoli.

"We lacked a little collaboration on the final equaliser," Pioli added. "Calderoni hit it well, but we had several opportunities to close that Lecce move earlier and if we had, we'd be here talking about a deserved victory.

"In the news conference yesterday [Saturday], I was asked many questions about how I found the team. I tell you after this match, there are many positives. The big error was that a side like Milan have to kill games off. We could've even held on for 2-1 and kicked it out of play rather than misplace those passes.

"This match will help us learn a great deal, for what we did and what we should've done. On the penalty, there were too many of us going after the ball and we left gaps. We weren't set out well at all."

Stefano Pioli's reign as AC Milan coach got off to an underwhelming start as Marco Calderoni's stunning late equaliser secured struggling Lecce a 2-2 draw in San Siro.

Krzysztof Piatek had seemingly secured former Inter boss Pioli – who replaced Marco Giampaolo during the international break – a debut win with his 81st-minute goal, but Calderoni struck in stoppage time to ensure Milan dropped points for the fifth time in eight games this season.

The impressive Hakan Calhanoglu powered Milan into the lead with a fine strike following Lucas Biglia's pass, but they struggled to maintain their lively start and faded towards half-time.

Khouma Babacar found the net from close range after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his penalty in the second half, and then Piatek's strike was cancelled out by Calderoni's long-range drive to prevent Milan from moving back into the top half of the table.

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