So I waited around this morning for the verdict of Zlatan's appeal, knowing full well what the outcome was going to be, but a part of me still had a shred of hope. Hope that the FIGC would forget that our big old Swede is a repeat and pestilent offender, hoping they would forget his lengthy ban last year for the same sort of foolishness and more importantly appeal to the fans, allowing for the best players to take the pitch in a monumental showpiece for Serie A. In that sense I was wrong, but all along I knew what the correct outcome was going to be. There is no funny business, no hidden agendas or anything of the sort, the guy is simply getting what he deserved, to bad Aronica didn't get it as well.
So here we go again, much like a stretch last season, we go it without Zlatan. Am I worried? Somewhat, but what will that accomplish? Should I curl up into a ball and concede the match and possibly the Scudetto because Zlatan is banned? Should I abandon ship like the many did a few weeks ago during a rough patch of form? Nope, sorry, I will stand behind this team because in the past 225 minutes of football this team got it's killer instinct back, it's bite, its GRINTA! Oh Juve, they have GRINTA, but now both teams come in full steam ahead for what could very well decide the proud owner of this year's Scudetto. Sure Milan could drop points here, but then Juve could still endure a rough spell of matches. Maybe Milan takes all three points and a Cinderella CL run puts Juve in the drivers seat? Frankly, I would rather the Scudetto and a Coppa Italia smash and grab, but I can only speak for myself. Either way let's focus on the task at hand shall we.
It remains to be seen if Conte deploys a 3-5-2 or plays more traditionally with four at the back. Milan have asserted themselves well against 3 man back lines outside of the previous Juventus match, and Conte may feel a point is all he needs from this match considering the table and the game in hand. I am sure he will keep those cards very close to his chest prior to the match so all we can do is worry about our own. I do know one thing, and in fact everyone knows it, if you crowd Pirlo, you stop Juventus. The reason Allegri was OK with letting Pirlo go is that he wanted a Milan midfield that was dynamic and difficult to read. With Pirlo on the pitch the opponent always knows how to stifle the attack, it happened in the Carletto era and Allegri saw the writing on the wall. At Juventus Pirlo has seen a bit of a rebirth because he has the hard running hard working midfielders around him to help shield him from the crowding. But it can still be done and if you attack the space in behind him like Catania did, Juventus are not as unbeatable as they have been made out to be.
So we know Zlatan is off the list and Prince is questionable but it seems players are returning to training and fit for this big time match. So how does Allegri make it happen:
Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Silva, Mesbah; Urby, Van Bommel, Nocerino; Prince; Robinho, Maxi
So I can already hear the crying and whining, but I will devote an entire paragraph to that mess. The back line should return to some semblance of order with Nesta Silva back as first choice pairing. Mesbah has been playing solid defense of late and is the better option on the defensive side of the ball, the only way I can see Antonini winning out is if Allegri choosing to attack Juve's right flank with pace and numbers, unlikely. I have Prince at CAM, because I feel that even at 75%, he is a difference maker and he will do his best to get onto the pitch. If he does then Urby can continue to play at RM where he has been improving dramatically. If not then Urby goes into CAM and Muntari steps into his role in the midfield. Again would rather Prince get to work, but can live with last week's lineup. Muntari could also prove that hard running grit needed to make Pirlo's life a living hell, as noted above. My attack is simple, Robinho and Maxi.
So why you ask did I choose to leave out the chosen one? Is it because he hasn't scored a goal in 2012? Possibly because he lacks match fitness? Or everyone's favorite, and mine now as well, because apparently all the facts don't exist, I just hate him. Matter of fact I will tell you why I didn't choose him because unlike Allegri I have not received a team sheet from the Owner or the Owner's daughter. I also remember Pato's performance against Inter and would hope to NEVER have to see that again, I also feel like his 15 minutes against Arsenal were poor and with Robinho's resurgence of form and Maxi's more physical nature it is the perfect blend in the attack. I want Milan to have the best chance to win and all things considered, having Pato on the pitch doesn't provide that.
There you have it. Saturday 2:45 PM EST Milan welcome Juventus onto the pitch at the San Siro for a Scudetto showdown. All eyes should be on this one, can Milan hand Juve their first loss? Could Juventus go the entire season without a loss and still somehow not do enough to win the title? No matter who you root for this season is shaping up to be a great one for Italy and Serie A. One more point I want to make, I have always and will continue to have the utmost respect for Juventus, both team and fans. Some Milan fans like to slander because of the match fixing scandal and so on, but at the end of the day I have always felt Juventus were punished and made a scapegoat for something everyone did, Italy is corrupt, not just the FIGC, but Italy as a whole. So in essence you should thank the Juventini, they took the fall, the purgatory, but now for the good of Serie A they are back. Best of luck to you, and may the best team win.