"We are a club in Serie C that already thinks with a Serie A mind."

Monza are no ordinary third-tier team in Italy. They are owned by former Prime Minister and Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, who returned to football in 2018 after selling his beloved Rossoneri a year earlier.

Now, Monza are dreaming big – aiming to be in Serie A in 2021. The Bagai were on track for promotion to the second division prior to the coronavirus pandemic, comfortably top of Serie C by 16 points through 27 games.

While COVID-19 has halted Monza's quest, their aspirations remain the same, despite the disruption.

"It is undoubtedly true that we are experiencing a very challenging situation," Sporting director Filippo Antonelli told Stats Perform. "We are in constant contact with the players and the staff regularly send personalised workouts. To date we have done something extraordinary, and the players remain really focused and highly motivated to achieve the Serie B objective.

"Monza's ownership is deeply solid and we enjoy a widespread network of relations and contacts developed over the many winning years, which makes it easier for the club to carry on their plans, even in difficult times, such as the one we are currently living.

"Such a situation was unpredictable, however safety comes first. With patience, once all of this will be over, we will start again with greater enthusiasm. Monza aims to be playing in Serie A. An exciting opportunity for all of us that we live with a lot of passion and commitment to make the most and best we can, day after day."

There is a Milan feel about Monza. After purchasing the club through his Fininvest company, Berlusconi turned to his trusted right-hand man Adriano Galliani – who was born in Monza – as CEO. Their partnership helped turn the Rossoneri into a superpower, with eight Serie A titles and five Champions League/European Cup crowns among the 29 pieces of silverware between 1986 and 2017.

Monza are also coached by former Milan midfielder and boss Cristian Brocchi, while the club boasts ex-Rossoneri defender Gabriel Paletta.

"When Berlusconi became the owner of the club, there was an immediate change of pace in the interest towards Monza, both from the media and the general public," Antonelli said. "The impact of such a high standing ownership on the club and the fans was indeed remarkable and significant: the sports centre has been renovated [redevelopment of turf pitches, synthetic pitches, gym, locker rooms and offices], the facilities have been secured, the Stadio Brianteo has been redeveloped through countless interventions [lighting, central grandstand, sky box], not to mention the improvements on the transfer market with the strengthening of the squad.

"I believe that all of this is what makes the difference, besides, of course, the winning mentality that Silvio Berlusconi has imprinted on the club, the team and the staff in the meetings that we were lucky enough to have with him… as for our CEO [Galliani], he often tells us that he 'belonged' to Monza for 10 years, he then was 'borrowed' to Milan for 31 years and now he's back at Monza."

Berlusconi's presence has changed the landscape for Monza, who tried to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic before the star striker opted to move 15 kilometres away to Milan – the capital of Lombardy. However, Monza continue to be linked with the 38-year-old as he faces an uncertain future at San Siro.

"Ibrahimovic is a champion, our ownership has always hired champion players," added Antonelli, who has no trouble bringing new players to Monza under Berlusconi's ownership.

"If compared to how the situation was before, now a phone call is enough to immediately make a negotiation possible, today everyone would like to receive a call from Monza: at this time it is much easier for me to convince players to come to Monza."

For Antonelli, Monza means more than most. The 41-year-old emerged from the club's youth system in 1997 before eventually returning in 2015 once his playing days were over, witnessing Monza's relegation and two seasons in Serie D.

"I am very fond of these colours," Antonelli continued.  Monza are a club with fans who have ideals. The more time passes, the more I understand this reality and I feel increasingly involved in this project."

Another day, another Lautaro Martinez rumour.

Inter star Martinez continues to dominate headlines as Barcelona reportedly circle.

Barca appear to be closing in on the Argentina international forward.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA MOVE CLOSER TO MARTINEZ

Barcelona have reached an agreement in principle with Inter forward Lautaro Martinez, according to Tuttosport.

Martinez is a player in demand amid links to Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City.

But Barca are desperate to sign Martinez and the report claims the LaLiga champions have reached a deal on the contract and must now negotiate with Inter.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN reports United are "optimistic" they will have Paul Pogba at their disposal in 2020-21 as no club can afford him. The disgruntled star has been linked to former team Juventus and Madrid.

- Serie A champions Juve are keen on replacing forward Gonzalo Higuain with City's Gabriel Jesus, says Calciomcercato.

Barca are struggling to offload Brazilian attacker Philippe Coutinho, according to Marca. Coutinho, on loan at Bayern Munich, has been linked to Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham. However, Barca have been unable to find a team willing to spend at least €80million (£73m). Another loan spell is being considered.

- Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland has become Madrid's primary transfer target, ahead of the likes of Martinez and RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner, claims Marca. Madrid continue to eye Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe as his contract is due to expire in 2021, while team-mate Neymar is reportedly another option.

Napoli will demand at least €40m for striker Arkadiusz Milik, says Calciomercato. It comes as Milan and Inter reportedly circle the Poland international, who is no closer to signing a new deal in Naples.

- Corriere dello Sport reports Zlatan Ibrahimovic is considering retirement but Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis wants the 38-year-old striker to sign a new deal.

- Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali is at the top of Juve's wish list, Tuttosport claims. Tonali is also wanted by Inter, United, City and PSG. Alternatives for Juve are Roma pair Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, as well as Fiorentina duo Federico Chiesa and Gaetano Castrovilli.

Paolo Maldini expects to recover from coronavirus "within a week" after his diagnosis was confirmed by Milan over the weekend.

Former Italy great Maldini, who now works for the Rossoneri as technical director, tested positive for COVID-19 along with his 18-year-old son Daniel, a current Milan player.

A club statement issued on Saturday revealed both men had completed two weeks in isolation at home and that they would remain in quarantine until clinically recovered, in line with medical protocols in Italy.

Paolo Maldini posted a video on his Instagram account to thank well-wishers and was optimistic about himself and his son achieving a full recovery in the near future.

"With this video I wanted to thank all those people who expressed on social media their love and concern for my and my son's health,” he said.

"We're fine. We should be able to get rid of this virus within a week. Thanks for your continuing affection.

"I wanted to thank all those doctors, nurses, health workers, civil protection and law enforcement officers who are facing this emergency with the utmost professionalism and enormous courage.

"Once again, you make us feel proud of being Italian. Thanks again."

Italy is the country most severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with a death toll now in excess of 6,000.

Football may be on hiatus in most of Europe and across the globe due to coronavirus, but Fabian Ruiz's future is still making headlines.

The Napoli and Spain star has established himself as one of the best midfielders on the continent since arriving from Real Betis in 2018.

Now, Liverpool are desperate to prise Fabian to Anfield but they have competition.

 

TOP STORY – REDS MAKE FABIAN TOP TARGET

Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz is Liverpool's top transfer target, reports The Express.

Fabian has attracted interest from his homeland, where LaLiga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are battling for the Spain international's signature.

However, Premier League leaders Liverpool are ready to pay £74million (€80m) for Fabian.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror says Manchester United – led by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward – have re-opened talks with star midfielder Paul Pogba's agent Rino Raiola. It comes amid uncertainty over Pogba, who continues to be linked to Madrid and former club Juventus.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will leave Milan at the end of the season, reports Sport Mediaset. The 38-year-old return to San Siro on a one-year and had been discussing a renewal before chief football officer Zvonimir Boban was sacked, angering the Swede.

Liverpool and Arsenal are among a number of clubs monitoring Eintracht Frankfurt's Evan Ndicka, claims Sky Sports. The defender has also been linked to Milan, Inter, Valencia and Sevilla.

- According to The Mirror, Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham have enquired about Barca's Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich.

United are confident of beating Borussia Dortmund to the signing of Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation Jude Bellingham.

- Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard is being eyed by Arsenal, The Mirror reports, amid doubts over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and United.

Paolo Maldini and his son Daniel have tested positive for coronavirus, Milan have confirmed.

Italy has been in lockdown for almost two weeks as its government attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of 4,825 people in the country.

Sport across the world has been put on hold, with Serie A suspended until at least April and UEFA having postponed Euro 2020 until next year.

On Saturday, Juventus star Paulo Dybala confirmed he and his girlfriend had been diagnosed with COVID-19, though he added they were both in good condition.

Dybala is the third Juve player to test positive after Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi and Milan have now confirmed club legend Maldini – the club's technical director – had tested positive, along with his son Daniel, who made his first-team debut for the Rossoneri in February.

"Milan confirms that Paolo Maldini, the club's technical director, became aware of contact with a person who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus and began to display symptoms of the virus himself," a club statement said.

"He was administered with a swab test yesterday, the result of which was positive. His son Daniel, a forward in Milan's youth team who had previously been training with the first team, also tested positive.

"Paolo and Daniel are both well and have already completed two weeks at home without contact with others.

"They will now remain in quarantine until clinically recovered, as per the medical protocols outlined by the health authorities."

Lionel Messi's contract is said to be a priority for Barcelona, who have also received good news on the Neymar front.

Messi has a deal until 2021 with the LaLiga giants, but can leave for free at the end of the season.

If Barca can get that done, it looks like Neymar also wants a return to Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CONTRACT A BARCELONA PRIORITY AS NEYMAR SAYS YES

A renewal for Messi is a prime concern for Barcelona, according to AS.

Messi is top of the to-do list for Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu despite economic problems facing several clubs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the cover of Sport says Neymar wants to return to Barca and is ready to put pressure on Paris Saint-Germain to get his wish.

ROUND-UP

- According to Le 10 Sport, PSG have not offered Neymar a new deal despite talk they would. The Brazil international is contracted until 2022 at the Ligue 1 champions.

- Chelsea desperately want Jadon Sancho. The Evening Standard reports the Premier League club are ready to pay £120million (€129.9m) for the Borussia Dortmund star.

- Inter have apparently sent a warning to Barcelona over Lautaro Martinez. Sport reports the Serie A giants want cash only for the forward, ruling out a deal that also involves a player.

- Paris Saint-Germain are setting their sights on Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. Le 10 sport says Donnarumma, who is out of contract next year, is a key target for PSG.

Has there ever been a football player you've loved watching so much that you could be confident of writing down a long list of reasons for your adoration?

For me, that player is Ronaldinho, and seeing as the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and 2005 Ballon d'Or recipient turns 40 on Saturday, I wanted to pay tribute.

The former World Cup winner will celebrate his birthday in a maximum-security Paraguayan prison after being accused of entering the country on a fake passport – and he apparently continues to rack up goals and assists in kickabouts behind bars. Only Ronaldinho.

In honour of the legendary Brazilian on this landmark day, here are the 40 reasons why I love him.

 

1. Within three minutes of kick-off in a Paris Saint-Germain versus Marseille game I recorded on VHS in March 2003, he flicked the ball over the heads of two players and won a free-kick when dribbling away. When he scored with a dink over the keeper later in that game, a love affair was born.

2. He was the master of the no-look pass. And it didn't even need to be necessary.

3. Whether you call it an elastico or a flip-flap, Ronaldinho loved them. It was the trick I was most beguiled by as a teenager and, to my endless frustration, could never get right myself.

4. He marked his debut for Barcelona with a stunning 30-yard drive that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar. It was gone 01:00 local time!

5. Ronaldinho had arrived in Catalonia with the reputation of a party lover firmly established. Who can blame him – if you were that good, wouldn't you just want to constantly celebrate?

6. That goal against Chelsea.

7. He assisted Ludovic Giuly in a 3-0 win over Osasuna in October 2005 using his back. I mean, who does that?!

8. He picked Barcelona over Manchester United. Nothing against the Red Devils, but it would have been tough to watch him play for a Premier League team that wasn't mine.

9. That samba shuffle celebration and the thumb-and-little-finger hand gesture.

10. He got a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu – as a Barcelona player.

11. Those cascading locks and gummy smile.

12. He scored directly from a corner for Flamengo during a 3-2 defeat to Avai in 2011. Anyone with a 'gol olimpico' on their resume gets the utmost kudos.

13. As a keen follower of Brazilian football, I was delighted when Ronaldinho signed for Fluminense – the team I'd chosen to support during a three-month stay in Rio de Janeiro. It was somehow even better when he terminated his 18-month contract after just nine appearances.

14. Alongside former Everton striker Jo and current Everton winger Bernard, he helped Atletico Mineiro win their first Copa Libertadores title in 2013.

15. He always seemed to be playing with a smile on his face, or at least not far away from it.

16. Ronaldinho may have been in decline and far from his twinkling best when he rocked up at Liga MX side Queretaro, but a double against Club America earned him a standing ovation at the iconic Estadio Azteca.

17. He posed for a photo with me in Barcelona. OK, it was via a green screen, all right?!

18. That was during an October 2003 visit to the city that included going to watch Barca take on Real Murcia. Ronaldinho made sure to treat me to a goal in a 3-0 win.

19. He made England's elimination from the 2002 World Cup a little less painful with the most outrageous of goals. (I reckon he meant it, too.)

20. For starring in Nike's iconic 'The Cage' and 'Ole' adverts.

21. Somehow, he scored from behind the goal during a training session with Flamengo. It was the kind of sorcery most can only dream of.

22. Before going viral was a thing, Ronaldinho went viral. Footage of him juggling the ball and volleying it against the crossbar FOUR times in succession without it hitting the ground wrote him into folklore. I still don't know whether it was real or not…

23. When Ronaldinho dribbled, he did it at electric pace and with startling agility, and although he often took several knocks he did his utmost to stay on his feet.

24. It was a Champions League semi-final against Milan: chest control, the ball lifted over Gennaro Gattuso's head, flicked past Andrea Pirlo with two more touches, and when Alessandro Nesta deigned to get in his way, Ronaldinho stretched a leg out behind him and used his heel to square to Samuel Eto'o.

25. In the days before Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite struggled with freestyle tricks at Barcelona presentations, Ronaldinho was balancing the ball on his head, rolling it forward to give it a little kiss, then sending it back to rest on his forehead. That's how you do it.

26. He made great use of his shoulder; either to deftly bring the ball down or flick it on to a team-mate.

27. His 360-degree spin to get between two Werder Bremen players. It doesn't even matter that he was tackled by the next defender.

28. He did not join Manchester City after leaving Barcelona. (See point eight.)

29. For filling countless hours of my time at university with his YouTube highlights.

30. Ronaldinho was able to baffle defenders without even touching the ball.

31. Because he scored one of the most jarring chips during his time at Atletico. From 16 yards out on the left side of the box, with the Arsenal de Sarandi goalkeeper seemingly in a good position, Ronaldinho clipped a beautiful effort into the top-left corner.

32. Most of the greats excel from free-kicks. The sight of Ronaldinho stepping up to one in a central area from a 90-degree angle to the goal was a thing of beauty.

33. Because he did not retire straight away after leaving Fluminense. He said he wanted to continue playing (but only after Rio's famous carnival, of course) and ended up going on tour, playing in exhibition games for whoever would pay him.

34. For teeing up Lionel Messi's first senior goal for Barcelona, and doing it with a scoop pass.

35. Against Villarreal at Camp Nou in the 2006-07 season came one of his most memorable strikes. After controlling Xavi's cross with his chest, he span 180 degrees and sent a bicycle kick back across goal. *chef's kiss*

36. For scoring under-the-wall free-kicks at Barcelona, Flamengo and Atletico.

37. His 'water bottle trick' when Atletico took on Sao Paulo. Go and look it up. He showed zero shame in punishing Rogerio Ceni's goodwill.

38. Throughout his career Ronaldinho kept trying to score by stealing the ball away from goalkeepers as they took a drop kick.

39. Another El Clasico moment from April 2004. This time it was an outrageous scoop in behind for Xavi to lift beyond Iker Casillas in the 86th minute and secure a 2-1 win.

40. Because in my lifetime, no other player has made watching football as enjoyable as he did.

With the majority of world sports postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have time to look back at some famous - and perhaps forgotten - exploits and broaden our knowledge.

Regardless of how much we think we know, there is always more that can be learned. A trip down memory lane often proves worthwhile.

With that in mind, we looked back at what occurred on March 21 in years gone by to bring you the best bits.

 

1953 – An NBA record that still stands

When the Boston Celtics hosted the Syracuse Nationals in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals it was a game that went down in history.

The teams combined for an incredible 106 personal fouls in a quadruple-overtime battle that saw 12 players foul out, with neither team having enough personnel left to make substitutions in the final two OT periods.

Police were also required to get fans and players off the floor following Dolph Schayes and Bob Brannum getting into a fight that saw both ejected.

Red Rocha and Paul Seymour played 67 minutes each in a slug fest that ended with the Celtics triumphing 111-105.

 

1971 – Gavaskar gets going

Sunil Gavaskar is undoubtedly one of the greatest openers in Test cricket history.

In just his second match in the longest format for India, he scored the first of his 34 centuries.

It came in the third Test against West Indies in Georgetown, Guyana, and he made 116 in his first innings of what ended up a drawn match.

 

1982 – Pate at the Players

The 1982 Players Championship was the first on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and Jerry Pate ensured it lived long in the memory.

After sending his ball into the water at the par-four 18th in round three, Pate thought victory had slipped from his grasp.

However, in round for he posted gains on the island-green 17th and the final hole to defeat his brother-in-law Bruce Lietzke and Scott Simpson by two shots.

To celebrate, he took a famous dip in the water hazard at the last.

 

1987 – Record-breaking Gullit agrees Milan move

Silvio Berlusconi made Ruud Gullit the most expensive player in the world when he signed him from PSV.

The powerful midfielder won the 1987 Ballon d'Or and went on to win three Serie A titles and back-to-back European Cups during his time in Milan.

Gullit now has a permanent place in the Rossoneri's Hall of Fame.

Things have not worked out for Philippe Coutinho since his big-money exit from Liverpool.

Coutinho failed to establish himself at LaLiga champions Barcelona, while the Brazilian star has struggled to convince during his loan spell with Bayern Munich.

Now, a Premier League club are reportedly ready to hand Coutinho a lifeline.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LEAD COUTINHO RACE

Chelsea are favourites to bring Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho back to the Premier League, according to AS.

Coutinho left Liverpool for Barcelona in a deal reportedly worth €160million (£151m) in 2018, however, he has not been able to match the lofty heights he reached at Anfield.

The 27-year-old was shipped out to Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich at the start of the season, and Frank Lampard's Chelsea have reportedly sounded out Barca about a transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

- Where will Paul Pogba be playing in 2020-21? Linked to former club Juventus and Real Madrid, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously insisted the Frenchman will be at Old Trafford next season. However, The Sun says United are now willing to sell Pogba for £100m (€105m).

United are desperate to beat Borussia Dortmund to Jude Bellingham's signature. Dortmund are reportedly favourites to sign Birmingham City's 16-year-old sensation. However, the Mirror claims United are prepared to outlay £30m to sign Bellingham, who toured the club's training facilities last week.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Barca are considering swap deals to facilitate the signings of Inter forward Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar. The report says Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho could be moved on.

- The Athletic says Liverpool are willing to pay RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's release clause, but Barca are set to provide competition.

Chelsea are chasing CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov, reports the Daily Star. Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham and Crystal Palace are also interested.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Gianluigi Donnarumma is happy to extend his Milan contract but CEO Ivan Gazidis is open to cashing in on the 21-year-old Italy goalkeeper.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has launched a fundraiser to raise money for Humanitas hospitals as he called on the world to "kick the coronavirus away".

More than 8,900 people have died from the coronavirus, with Italy, where Ibrahimovic is playing with Milan, hugely impacted.

Italy has seen more than 35,000 cases, with nearly 3,000 deaths, a tally second only to China.

Ibrahimovic launched a fundraiser on Wednesday and it had exceeded €150,000 as he aims for €1million for Humanitas hospitals.

"Hi, I'm Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Italy has always given me so much and in this dramatic moment, I want to give back even more to this country that I love," he said in a video posted on Twitter.

"I decided together with the people who are working with me to create a fundraiser for Humanitas hospitals and to use my communication power to spread the message wider.

"It's a serious issue and we need concrete help that's not just about a video. I count on the generosity of my colleagues, of all professional athletes and of those who want to make a small or large donation according to their possibilities to kick this virus away.

"Together we can really help hospitals and doctors and nurses who selflessly work everyday to save our lives because today we are the ones sharing for them.

"Let's together kick the coronavirus away and win this match and remember, if the virus doesn't go to Zlatan, Zlatan goes to the virus."

Serie A has been suspended until April 3, with Italy in lockdown due to coronavirus.

Europe's top five leagues have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is widespread uncertainty over the future of the 2019-20 season.

Will tournaments be completed when conditions are suitable? Will things finish as they are? Will the campaign be declared null and void?

With the help of Opta, we look back over the previous 10 seasons to see who would have been crowned champions if the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga had stopped where there are now.

 

Aguer-no!

It was an iconic moment in Premier League history. Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City's second stoppage-time goal as they came from behind to defeat QPR 3-2 and clinch their first top-flight title in 44 years, beating crestfallen arch-rivals Manchester United to the trophy on the final day of the season.

However, if the campaign had been stopped where it is now it would have been United who were celebrating due to a one-point advantage.

It is the only occasion since 2009-10 that the team on top after 29 matchdays has not won the Premier League.

 

Atleti's title wiped out

Atletico Madrid incredibly broke the Barcelona and Real Madrid duopoly in LaLiga in 2013-14, with Diego Godin salvaging a draw at Camp Nou on the final day to ensure they finished top of the pile.

However, it was local rivals Real Madrid, led by Carlo Ancelotti, who sat three points clear after 27 games of the season, meaning Diego Simeone's crowning achievement would not have occurred.

The only other instance of a team being displaced in the final 11 matches came in 2009-10, when Madrid sat ahead of Barca on goal difference but ended up seeing Pep Guardiola's men go on to win LaLiga for a second straight season.

 

Juventus dominance broken up

Eight straight Serie A titles have seen Juventus create history in Italy, but they would have only managed five if the previous seasons stopped after 26 games – the total the majority of clubs have completed in 2019-20.

The Bianconeri went undefeated under Antonio Conte in 2011-12, although it was Milan who topped the table at this point in the campaign, meaning Massimiliano Allegri would have won successive Scudetti at San Siro.

Maurizio Sarri would also not have had to have waited until winning the Europa League with Chelsea last year for his first major title.

Sarri's Napoli only surrendered top spot to Juve on matchday 27 in 2017-18 and they failed to recover it, missing out on their best chance to finish top since the Diego Maradona era.

 

QSI off to the perfect start

The landscape of Ligue 1 changed dramatically when Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought Paris Saint-Germain in June 2011, although no silverware was added to the Parc des Princes trophy cabinet in the first season following the takeover.

However, they would have been crowned champions had the 2011-12 season finished after 28 games, denying a Montpellier side powered by the goals of Olivier Giroud an unlikely first Ligue 1 title.

There would have been bad news for PSG in 2014-15, though, as the trophy would have gone to Hubert Fournier's Lyon due to a one-point margin.

Bordeaux would have made it back-to-back titles in 2009-10, too, with Marseille having made the most of a collapse that saw Laurent Blanc's side slip from first to sixth over the final 10 matches.

 

Bundesliga business as usual

What changes with the Bundesliga title winners if you stop the previous 10 seasons after 25 games? Nothing.

Bayern Munich would have won eight championships to Borussia Dortmund's two.

Serie A is on hiatus until at least April 3 amid the coronavirus pandemic, and authorities expect the suspension to continue long after the initially scheduled resumption date.

Only China – where the virus was discovered – has been hit harder by COVID-19 than Italy, where, as of Monday, there have been 24,747 confirmed cases and 1,809 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Prior to the disruption, free-scoring Atalanta and title-chasing Lazio had been the stories of the season, with Simone Inzaghi's men pushing defending champions Juventus hard for the Scudetto.

Inter showed signs they were heading back towards their former heights before losing ground in the title race, though the same cannot be said for Milan, who sit seventh.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the most interesting facts relating to Serie A's top four and the Rossoneri.

JUVENTUS

- Juve have been trailing for 133 minutes in 2019-20, less time than any other team in Serie A this season.

- At home, Juve are unbeaten in their previous 34 league games (W29, D5), more than double the next best streak (Lazio's 15).

- This term, Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the record of 11 consecutive goalscoring appearances in a single Serie A season. He has also already levelled his haul of goals from 2018-19 despite making nine fewer appearances, averaging 0.95 goals per game compared to 0.68 last season.

- Among the players who made their debut in the three-points era, Ronaldo was the fastest to reach 42 goals (52 appearances) – before him the record was 58 games played (Vincenzo Montella, Andriy Shevchenko and Brazil great Ronaldo).

LAZIO

- Lazio are unbeaten in their previous 21 league games (W17 D4), already an all-time Serie A record for the club. Six of the seven previous teams with streaks as long as that in a single season went on to win the Scudetto (the only exception was Roma in 2009-10).

- Lazio have scored at least two goals in 19 games in the 2019-20 Serie A season. Only Liverpool (23), Manchester City (21) and Paris Saint-Germain (21) have done so in more games across Europe's top five leagues this term.

- Ciro Immobile has 27 goals in 26 games in 2019-20. Only Antonio Valentin Angelillo (29) in has managed more after 26 matchdays.

INTER

- Antonio Conte is the first Inter coach to see his team score in each of his first 19 games in all competitions.

- Inter have won nine of their 13 Serie A away games this season (D2 L2): only in the 2006-07 campaign have the Nerazzurri won more (11).

- Romelu Lukaku is one of three players to have scored at least 17 Serie A goals in their first 25 games of a debut season with Inter, emulating Giuseppe Meazza (1929-30) and Stefano Nyers (1948-49).

ATALANTA

- Atalanta's 70 goals in this Serie A campaign already represents their second-best haul in a single season (77 in 2018-19).

- No team has scored as many as 70 goals in the first 25 matches of a single Serie A season since 1959, when Fiorentina netted 79.

- Three Atalanta players are into double-figures in terms of goals in this season: Josip Ilicic, Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata. Only in 1949-50 and 1951-52 have the club had as many players reach 10 goals.

MILAN

- Since Stefano Pioli joined Milan, they have kept the most clean sheets in Serie A (seven).

- Milan have increased their winning percentage since the turn of the year across Serie A and the Coppa Italia. It was 35 per cent in 2019, rising to 50 per cent in the new year – they also increased their goals per game from 0.9 to 1.7.

- Since his first spell at Milan (which began in August 2010), Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 60 goals for the Rossoneri in all competitions, more than any other player with the club in the period.

The coronavirus crisis continues to challenge decision-makers in football's corridors of power and could soon leave some of the game's biggest clubs facing contract conundrums.

Manchester United, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain are among the major European outfits who are due to farewell high-profile players when free agency comes into force on June 30.

Domestic leagues across the world appear increasingly likely to run beyond that deadline, meaning sides up and down the divisions could be forced to renegotiate deals beyond the typical expiry date.

It remains to be seen how governing bodies will approach the unfamiliar territory but Edinson Cavani, Mario Gotze and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be watching closely like dozens more across Europe's top five leagues.

These are the stars and solid supporting cast members whose contract situations are worth monitoring in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

LaLiga

Athletic Bilbao: Aritz Aduriz (retiring), Benat, Mikel San Jose
Atletico Madrid: Antonio Adan
Espanyol: Ander Iturraspe
Granada: Roberto Soldado
Real Valladolid: Hatem Ben Arfa
Sevilla: Ever Banega (joining Al Shabab at end of contract), Nolito
Valencia: Ezequiel Garay
Villarreal: Santi Cazorla 

Premier League

Bournemouth: Ryan Fraser
Burnley: Joe Hart
Chelsea: Olivier Giroud, Pedro, Willian
Liverpool: Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne
Manchester City: David Silva (confirmed he will leave at end of contract)
Manchester United: Nemanja Matic, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Odion Ighalo (loan ends)
Newcastle United: Matty Longstaff
Tottenham: Jan Vertonghen, Japhet Tanganga

Serie A

Atalanta: Jose Luis Palomino
Hellas Verona: Fabio Borini
Inter: Ashley Young
Juventus: Gianluigi Buffon
Milan: Lucas Biglia, Giacomo Bonaventura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Napoli: Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens

Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen: Charles Aranguiz
Borussia Dortmund: Mario Gotze, Lukasz Piszczek
Hertha Berlin: Salomon Kalou
Schalke: Benjamin Stambouli
Wolfsburg: Robin Knoche

Ligue 1

Lille: Loic Remy
Monaco: Jemerson
Nice: Walter Benitez, Arnaud Lusamba
Paris Saint-Germain: Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier, Tanguy Kouassi, Layvin Kurzawa, Thiago Silva

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