Serie A Week 9 – 30/10/10 (19.45 UK)
Milan – Juventus
Stadio San Siro
It’s an Italian classic this weekend as in-form Milan take on a Juventus side which is still suffering from an identity crisis.
The Rossoneri confirmed themselves as Scudetto contenders on Monday night with a crucial 2-1 victory at Napoli. Although the home side probably deserved at least a point from the game, especially as they bravely played 45 minutes with 10-men, Milan’s victory saw them move up into second – just two points adrift of surprise leaders Lazio.
Milan will go into this one on the back of four straight wins in the championship, with Alexandre Pato, Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic finding the net at some stage over their last two games. That trio is again likely to start given the fitness concerns of Ronaldinho.
Boss Massimiliano Allegri spoke of his satisfaction over the performance at the San Paolo, especially considering their injury crisis. Max Ambrosini, Thiago Silva and Gianluca Zambrotta are all in the treatment room with a few others, while Luca Antonini joined them after smashing heads with Cristian Maggio.
The latter’s absence suggests that Massimo Oddo, a summer target for Juventus, will start on the right after his two assists in the Naples rain. Gennaro Gattuso, praised by former boss Carlo Ancelotti this week, may also get another start. They have no suspensions to deal with.
Juventus could offer the hosts a stiff test, but it all depends on which Old Lady turns up on Saturday night. Will it be the devastating goal machine that has put four past Udinese, Cagliari and Lecce or the timid side that have lost to Bari and Palermo already this term?
Boss Gigi Del Neri has asked for consistency but that simply hasn’t materialised. Last weekend’s trip to Bologna offered the Italian giants a chance to underline their ability, but it just highlighted their problems.
Although they are scoring for fun – they have the best attack in the League – they are missing that bomber who regular finds the net in attack. Some uninspiring finishing cost them victory at the Dall’Ara, with Amauri and Vincenzo Iaquinta, who missed a penalty, picking up injuries.
The Italian may recover in time, but it does seem as if Del Neri will start with Alex Del Piero and Fabio Quagliarella in attack. There will be no Milos Krasic though who is banned after his diving antics, while Gigi Buffon, Leandro Rinaudo and Zdenek Grygera are also part of the injured brigade.
Simone Pepe, or Jorge Martinez, is expected to step in for Krasic in a midfield that now seems to be built around Felipe Melo, a reborn Alberto Aquilani and Claudio Marchisio.
Last season’s encounter ended with a comfortable 3-0 victory for the home side, who haven’t lost here since Fabio Capello’s Juventus collected a 1-0 triumph thanks to a goal from David Trezeguet – a player who Juve may have regrets about selling over the summer…
Keep an eye on: Robinho (Milan) – He’s taken his time to settle, but the signing from Manchester City is starting to find his feet. He could be used behind the front two or in a wider role alongside Ibra and Pato. Juve will have to beware.
Last five in Serie A: Milan (D W W W W) Juventus (L W D W D)
Last season: Milan 3-0 Juventus
Top tip: Given recent form Milan will have to start as slight favourites, although much may depend on who wins the battle between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Giorgio Chiellini.
Stat fact: Juventus have conceded just one goal away from home in Serie A so far this season and that came back in Week 1 at Bari when Massimo Donati struck 317 minutes ago.
Milan (probable): Abbiati; Oddo, Nesta, Sokratis, Bonera; Gattuso, Pirlo, Boateng; Robinho; Pato, Ibrahimovic
Juventus (probable): Storari; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Ceglie; Pepe, Melo, Aquilani, Marchisio; Del Piero, Quagliarella