San Siro, Milan
30.10.2010, 19:45 GMT
Last summer, a flurry of transfer activities saw AC Milan land Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho. With these two in their ranks, Milan now have one of the most potent strike force in Europe, not to forget that they already had Alexander Pato and Ronaldinho. After a shaky start Massimilano Allegri finally seems to have settled comfortably as Milan gaffer. He has usually made the right calls in Serie A games. The Rossoneri have enjoyed a winning run in recent times – winning 4 games on the trot. Last weekend they travelled to Naples, one of the toughest away trips in the peninsula, and carved out a fine 2-1 victory.
Juventus’ mini revival was stalled last week. The profligacy of Amauri and Iaquinta became all too evident as the Bianconeri failed to crack a sturdy Bologna defence. Delneri’s decision to persist with Claudio Marchisio as a left winger backfired. While Marchisio did a good job defensively, he failed to add any attacking width. The only bright spot for Juve in the Bologna game was another good performance from left-back Paolo De Ceglie. Juve have won only one game out of their last five, in all competitions.
Allegri is most likely to retain the 4-2-1-3 formation. Gianluca Zambrotta is injured for this game, so Bonera will partner Antonini as full-backs. Thiago Silva will be back in the heart of defence with veteran Alessandro Nesta.
Allegri’s insistence to start with both Seedorf and Gattuso has baffled observers. These two players, best in their position during their peak, are not fit to keep up the tempo for an entire match. Their slow movement made the Milan midfield predictable, choking service to the front three. His choices are more baffling when one considers how well their replacements have performed so far. Mathieu Flamini has looked like the player he was in Arsenal, while Kevin-Prince Boateng has quickly became a fan favourite. Gattuso’s experience will get him the preference over Flamini but Boateng will partner him as the defensive screen.
Ibra loves scoring goals in Serie A
Andre Pirlo is still the heart-beat of Milan’s forward surges. His vision and accuracy is still impeccable. His marvelous set-piece delivery will also cause problems for a Juve defence that has struggled against set-pieces in recent times. Pirlo has became slower, he needs more time on the ball to deliver those trademark passes but he remains an irreplaceable player for both Milan and Italy.
Ronaldinho is not fully fit and may not start this game. He has been a bane for Juventus in recent matches and Milan will miss his prodigal talent. Pato, Ibrahimovic and Robinho will form the attacking trident. Ibrahimovic, back in his favourite hunting ground, has quickly found form. He has scored 6 goals so far. Pato has supported him well with 5 himself. Ibra will act as a pivot, while Pato on the right and Robinho on the left will create space with their clever movement.
The Bologna match did not only produce an uninspiring result for the Old Lady, it also jeopardized Luigi Delneri’s team selection for this match. Both the centre-forwards – Amauri and Iaquinta – got injured in that match. Moreover, something worse was waiting around the corner, as Milos Krasic was banned for two games for simulation. The Serbian winger has been Juve’s main source of creativity till now. He already has five assists, as well as three goals, to his name. Delneri’s system emphasizes on wing-play, so Krasic will be a massive omission for Juventus.
Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will start as centre-backs; Marco Motta will play as right-back with Paolo De Ceglie. De Ceglie has enjoyed a good patch of form in last 4 games, how he deals with Pato will be crucial in this match.
A rock in the back for Bianconeri
As he did in the away match against Inter, Delneri is likely to field Marchisio as left winger. Marchisio doesn’t add a lot to attack but he does provide better defensive cover, enabling De Ceglie to overlap frequently. Aquilani and Melo have combined well in last 2 matches; Melo successfully completed 72 out of 74 passes against Bologna. New recruit Jorge Martinez will replace Krasic on right wing.
With both CFs injured the only other choices left for Delneri are Quagliarella and Del Piero. Martinez has capability to play as a striker but it’s unlikely that such an experiment will be done in a big match.
Chiellini vs Ibrahimovic
Giorgio Chiellini has an exceptional record when it comes to marking Ibracadabra. He has managed to silence the lanky striker in most of their encounters. His partner Leonardo Bonucci is prone to occasional lapse in concentration, so Chiellini will have to be on his toes against the Milan trident. Ibra’s goal-scoring form makes him the most dangerous player for Juventus. How well Chiellini marks Ibra might well decide the number of goals in this game.
Melo vs Pirlo
Andre Pirlo’s delivery makes the Milan trident function properly. The main target of Delneri will be to isolate Pirlo in the midfield, so that the supply line is cut off. The man best fit to do this job is Felipe Melo. The Brazilian mediano has been in brilliant form so far. He has not just broken up play in the midfield but his ball distribution has improved too. Pirlo needs a lot of time on the ball if Melo doesn’t allow him that time, he might struggle. Melo was shambolic against Milan last season, so he has to set that record straight also.
Possible Starting XI
Milan (4-2-1-3): Abbiati; Bonera, Nesta, Silva, Antonini; Boateng, Gattuso, Pirlo; Pato, Ibrahimovic, Robinho
Juventus (4-4-2): Storari; Motta, Chiellini, Bonucci, De Ceglie; Martinez, Melo, Aquilani, Marchisio; Del Piero, Quagliarella
Head to Head
|15/05/2010||AC Milan vs Juventus||3-0|
|10/01/2010||Juventus vs AC Milan||0-3|
|10/05/2009||AC Milan vs Juventus||1-1|
|14/12/2008||Juventus vs AC Milan||4-2|
|12/04/2008||Juventus vs AC Milan||3-2|
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER(S) TO WATCH OUT FOR
Alexander Pato (Milan): The “Duck” has been in brilliant form this season. He had found the net twice against Chievo. Making his 100th appearence for Milan, the young Brazilian will be smacking his lips in anticipation of having a go at Juve’s full-backs. His off-the-ball movement and ability to beat his man is bound to cause head-aches for the Bianconeri defenders.
Alberto Aquilani (Juventus): In the absence of Krasic, “Il Principio” will have to take over the duties to create chances for Juve. His long rangers can prove to be invaluable as Abbiati is vulnerable to them. Unless Aquilani manages to create something special, Juve will struggle to score goals.
Without Krasic it will be difficult for Juve to pressurize Milan defence. It will be a tight game in which individual brilliance can decide the verdict.
Milan 1-0 Juventus
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST