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Juventus Preview

The Old Lady, not the Band!

Claudio Villa

Juventus will not have forgotten the last encounter for Milan, a solid victory and a catalyst to Milan's march up the table, having only lost once in Serie A since that victory. Surely Juventus will also remember their CL failure, and how their ability to "win" matches in Serie A is not always so crisp and clear in Europe, a place where Milan has always proved their superiority. The match could have been great, a Title decider, but Milan is still growing and was not yet deserving of that honor; however, still a big match with all of Italy watching!

In the last encounter Allegri bested Conte by simply proving why Pirlo was not the answer forward for AC Milan. Stop Pirlo, you stop Juve, and the extra body in the midfield to pester the former Milan Maestro proved to much overcome. Conte didn't like that, and apart from the fact that Pirlo is showing his age, weakness, and experiencing fatigue he continues to be the focal for Juventus. Conte understands this however and has opted for an additional body in the midfield, shrinking space meaning less movement and work required for Pirlo. Good move or papering over cracks is something to consider?

Allegri will also have his tactical challenges with Balotelli suspended, oddly enough for a large match against Juventus? Coincidence? His choice to rest El Sharaawy last weekend, who was a yellow away from suspension proved a problem to those with benefit of hindsight, but he and Pazzo are crucial to any chance of Milan success in this match. In a "normal" season with "normal" expectations a win in Milan against Juventus and a draw away is a four points to be proud of but "normal" is in the eyes of the beholder and some of those folks are self-deprecating Milan fans who don't know when enough is enough!

Boateng and Abate continue to race the clock against fitness, but DeSciglio can play RB with Constant on the left. The question is what do with Boateng? Is he fit? Do you play him in the mid if he is? Did Niang earn a start? All questions that could and should be answered before the benefit of hindsight, but for me it's simple. You need the extra body in the midfield, so play the 4-3-1-2, play Boateng in the hole, and try and win the midfield numbers battle. This benefits Milan as well as with two strikers they can check central and role wide to exploit space and counter. A big issue I had last week was Milan's slow play on the counter, that cannot happen here. So my lineup:

Abbiati; Abate/DeSciglio, Zapata, Mexes, Constant/DeSciglio; Nocerino, Montolivo, Muntari; Boateng; Pazzo, El Sharaawy

I need to preach expectations one last time, but a win here would be fantastic. See you all Sunday!