Sunday, March 2, 19:45 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be looking to continue their revival under Seedorf as they welcome the reigning Serie A champions to San Siro this weekend. Having won four out of six matches so far, Seedorf will surely be looking to extend his run and climb up the table.
Juventus, on the other hand, have been an unstoppable machine for the past couple of seasons. Under Conte, they have been a totally different side and their Scudetto victories only proves that point. After a relatively slow start to this season, Juventus have rightfully reclaimed their top spot in the peninsula.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of El Shaarawy, Cristante, Silvestre, Abbiati, Balotelli and Zapata for this match due to injury and Muntari due to suspension. The latest addition to this long injury list is Balotelli, who injured his shoulder in the UEFA Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.
Seedorf has experimented with the Milan set-up after his arrival but has more or less favored the 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding players in the middle of the park. However, even with two central enforcers, Milan have struggled when it has come to performing their defensive duties this season. Under Seedorf, Milan have been a different attacking side, but their defensive lapses have cost them on many occasions. Currently, Milan have kept two successive clean sheets, but against Juventus, they are sure to concede given their defensive frailties. The absence of Muntari opens up one holding midfielder spot in the starting line-up.
Seedorf will field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Amelia under the bar. In the absence of few key players, some due to suspension, others due to injury, Seedorf has the chance to try out new faces both in midfield and attack. The back line will be formed by De Sciglio on the right, Emanuelson on the left, with Bonera and Rami forming the central defensive pair. The two holding midfielders for this match will be Montolivo and Essien.
The midfield will be formed by the trio of Poli on the right, Taarabt on the left with Kaka playing through the center. In all likeliness, neither Honda nor Robinho will start this match. In the absence of Balotelli, Pazzini will feature as the lone striker, although he will be wearing a protective mask.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Amelia(GK); De Sciglio, Bonera, Rami, Emanuelson; Montolivo, Essien; Poli, Kaka, Taarabt; Pazzini
Juventus will miss the services of Asamoah, Chiellini, Vucinic and Pepe for this match due to injury and Vidal due to suspension. After a relatively slow start when Roma were running crazy with the rest of the Serie A teams, Juventus has slowly and silently taken the top position. With their Champions League dreams lying in shatters at least for this season, they have been quite strong in the Europa League, as was seen from their recent encounter against Trabzonspor. Conte has been in the news recently, but it must be said that no matter what he says, his team is still the champion of Italy and is still the team to beat in the peninsula.
Juventus are very strong in shooting from direct free kicks, finishing scoring chances and attacking down the wings. In addition to all these, they have wonderful individuals who can create chances via through balls or individual skills. Playing a short passing game, Juventus often tries to play inside the opposition half, mainly playing through the middle of the park. However, they are weak in aerial duels and sometimes they commit far too many individual errors. Juventus are extremely strong in the attacking department, and although they are equally adept defensively, Milan will not sit back in this match.
Juventus will deploy a 3-5-2 formation for this match with Buffon in goal. The defense line sees Barzagli on the right, Caceres on the left with Bonucci playing through the center. The midfield will be formed by Lichtsteiner and Marchisio on the right, Pogba and Peluso on the left with Pirlo acting as the midfield anchor-cum-deep-lying play-maker. Marchisio played in the ‘Pirlo role’ sometime back and it can be expected that he will drop down a bit deeper once the match progresses. The forward line is formed by Llorente and Tevez.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Buffon(GK); Barzagli, Bonucci, Caceres; Lichtsteiner, Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, Peluso; Llorente, Tevez
Player to Watch Out For
Adel Taarabt (Milan)
Arrival on loan from QPR, Taarabt made his mark at Milan from the word go. Not only has he scored goals, but also provided for his teammates. His tireless running and trickery have been admired by the San Siro faithful and according to the player, he wants to show his best in the coming months so that Milan will sign him permanently come this summer. Not only is he flamboyant, as he showed against Napoli, his flair and footballing instincts too have been standout features so far. And that is one of the main reasons he has featured for Milan so much since his arrival in January. So far, Taarabt has played on the left and also on the right, but according to the player, he would prefer to play through the middle, right behind the striker. However, he does tend to go over the top – a feature disliked by his previous managers as well as fans. Milan will be hoping that he will perform big in the coming months, and thereby take some pressure off Balotelli.
Milan 1 – 1 Juventus
Milan need points from this match to prove that they are indeed improving under their new coach, Seedorf. After dishing out probably one of their best performance of this season against Sampdoria, Milan will be on the lookout to take the game to the reigning champions. Juventus, on the other hand, will surely be looking to take all three points on offer and increase their lead at the top of the Serie A table.
Blast From The Past