Once upon a time, Milan vs Juventus was billed as a title-deciding match: Italy's two most successful clubs, battling it out for the Scudetto, with some of the world's top players on display. Whereas Juventus have enjoyed a swift return to the upper echelons of European football in the past five years, Milan have floundered, and this season has been no different. Despite a string of positive results from January through to early March, Milan's hopes of even qualifying for the Europa League look doubtful. Now without a win in four, Milan's hold on sixth place is looking increasingly tenuous and the chasing pack have capitalised on this drop in form. Sassuolo are now just one point behind, in seventh place, going into this round of fixtures.
This match couldn't have come at a worse time for the Rossoneri, and Juventus will be looking to compound the misery of Milanisti as they chase their fifth consecutive league title.Given the circumstances of this encounter, it is important for Milan to earn a good result. Juventus are head and shoulders above Milan right now, but with rumours swirling that Mihajlovic could be facing the sack should he fail to get a result against the Bianconeri, Milan need to put in a big performance. With the team having gone into a training retreat following last weekend's dismal loss away to Atalanta, they will be well aware of the expectations resting on their shoulders right now.
Unfortunately for Sinisa Mihajlovic, the Rossoneri head into this match with a thoroughly depleted squad. Riccardo Montolivo picked up an injury in training earlier this week and looks unlikely to be fit for the game. Andrea Bertolacci is also set to miss the match through suspension. In all likelihood Milan will have to make do with a makeshift midfield and, worryingly, one bereft of any creativity. Fortunately, Juraj Kucka may be in the squad for the match, having largely recovered from the thigh injury that's kept him out for the past few weeks. Who will partner Carlos Bacca up front remains a mystery, however, with none of Luiz Adriano, Jeremy Menez or Mario Balotelli able to put together a run of good performances. However, given his impact in last weekend's match, Balotelli looks the favourite right now.
If there's a ray of sunlight for Milan supporters, it's that Paulo Dybala will miss the match through injury - that said, the Bianconeri are hardly short of replacements. Milan are set to face Juventus once again in the final of the Coppa Italia at the end of the season, a match which could prove decisive in judging the success of the Rossoneri's season. With this match serving as a dress rehearsal of sorts for that decisive clash, hopefully Milan can give a good account of themselves here and offer an increasingly disenchanted fanbase some hope.
Milan: 4-4-2 - Gianluigi Donnarumma; Ignazio Abate, Cristian Zapata, Alessio Romagnoli, Luca Antonelli; Keisuke Honda, Jose Mauri, Juraj Kucka, Giacomo Bonaventura; Carlos Bacca, Mario Balotelli.
Juventus: 3-5-2 - Gianluigi Buffon; Daniele Rugani, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Stephan Lichsteiner, Stefano Sturaro, Claudio Marchisio, Paul Pogba, Alex Sandro, Mario Mandzukic, Alvaro Morata.
How To Watch
Where: Stadio San Siro, Milan
When: 8.45pm local, 15.45pm EST, 9th April 2016.
TV: Sky Calcio 1 (Italy), BT Sport 1 (UK)
Online: SKY Go Italia (Italy), BT Sport (UK), beIN Sports Connect (USA)
International listings can be viewed here.
It's hard to see Milan getting a good result against Juventus, but we might as well be optimistic. Carlos Bacca can bail Milan out once again.
Milan 1-1 Juventus