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Matchday III: Milan v Juventus Preview

He's Back!? But this time it's on the wrong side...

Valerio Pennicino

He was pragmatic, he was efficient and he led us to our first scudetto in 7 years.  Now he sits on the sidelines at Juventus with a better squad at his disposal.  This match is not going to be easy, but it will be a true litmus test of Filippo Inzaghi's AC Milan.

Should be much of surprise to anyone that I had a tremendous amount of respect for Max Allegri and his playing style. I firmly believe he was hard done at Milan and while I have moved on so has he.  The difference is he got the greener pasture while at AC Milan we are still planting seeds.  I won't dwell to much on Juventus, they are what they are. Unbeaten on the season, zero goals conceded, and a plus seven goal differential in their four matches.  Milan are also unbeaten but with four goals conceded to Parma on Sunday, their is work to be done come Saturday.

We talked about the balance, or lack thereof, in the current Milan side and the comments seemed to all point at the same problem.  This team is still weak in the spine, specifically the center backs.  That problem won't correct itself before the weekend and early reports on Alex's early removal are still unclear, but he looked a bit slow on the weekend leaving Rami and Zapata the better option.  Diego Lopez is most likely out, with Cristian Abbiati back between the sticks.  Stephan El Sharaawy did train with the team while Fernando Torrres remains a mystery.

I don't see Inzaghi deviating from the 4-3-3 any time soon, but the question is more on who then on what formation.  If you assume Torres plays, which I think is the right answer, and you flank him with a white hot Jeremy Menez and El Sharaawy you commit three fully to the attack, but what does that do the midfield?  You can drop Giacomo Bonaventura into the midfield line but this game will need a bit more grit in three man midfield line to contend with Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba.  Andrea Pirlo is what he is, and Milan will shut him down with Nigel De Jong but I fear Andrea Poli and Sulley Muntari may not be up the task at hand.  Muntari is always good for a great match against Juventus but Poli seems to be busting his hump but looking more like a headless chicken then a purposeful runner. He is learning but this match will require tremendous discipline and organization from all ten outfield players not just a handful.  The pressure and tracking needs to start at the top if Milan wants any chance at this one.

My take:

Abbiati; Abate, Rami, Zapata, DeSciglio; Poli, NDJ, Muntari; Menez, Torres, SES

I won't venture a guess on the result but if they give Juventus from 25-18 meters this one will be tough.  One thing can be said of this Milan, they are not afraid to attack but we have seen this movie before and while it is exciting it doesn't always equal results.  Inzaghi will do well to take some of his predecessors pragmatic approach.