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Juventus-Milan preview: Italy's greatest derby

When two of the biggest clubs in Italy meet on Saturday, it'll be a clash of two clubs in very different positions, in the standings and otherwise. Milan is topping the charts, playing with confidence and Allegri seems to have a good rapport with the squad. Juve, on the other hand, is struggling to reach the Euro qualification zone, team morale is possibly at an all time low and the Del Neri's seat is shaking like De Ceglie when he sees Bonera. Bottom line, the greatest Italian derby comes at a bad time for Juve. As much as I as a Serie A fan would like Juve to be great again, Milan has no choice but to put the circumstances to use and go for the kill in Torino.

The atmosphere surrounding this year's derby is strange to say the least. The very idea that some Juve supporters are quietly hoping for a Milan win paints a clear picture - just how sick of an impostor team in black and blue can you get after they win 5 back to back titles after underhandedly sabotaging the two true greats of Italian football? This is not to say Juve will roll over on Saturday, in fact I expect Chiellini and co. to present a very tough obstacle for Allegri's men. So, let's have a look at what we can expect to see on Saturday night.

First of all, Juve will most likely play a back 4 consisting of four central back again. If De Ceglie was fit and Chiellini playing in his natural position, it's safe to say that not only their defense but their overall gameplay would improve. As it is, Robinho and Pato will have all the encouragement necessary to drift out wide and take on the very respectable but slow wide defenders one on one. In the middle of the pitch, Robinho would have very little chance against Chiellini. On the flank, however, pace and dribbling often trumps strength and positioning. Sorensen on the other side looks solid in a fullback role but is, none the less, not natural in it and if Allegri plays his cards right he will be pinned back by Pato and whoever plays on van Bommel's left.

The lack of attacking potential from the fullback positions will have another negative effect on Juve - their wingers will not have the support they'd like to have and will find themselves in 1 on 2 situations more often than not. With that said, Juve's best bet are still crosses from the flank - if van Bommel repeats last week's performance, the middle of the pitch will be securely in Milan's hands.

As for personnel, I'd roll out the same team that faced Napoli. Boateng should be on the bench, as he will definitely be starting against Tottenham. Not only will he be starting, he will be absolutely crucial...but that's something we'll talk about after the weekend. I expect Juve to put up a formidable fight, but I also expect a Milan win, and if Milan scores in the first 30 minutes, the rossoneri should be able to bring the game to a quiet close. If not, it could turn into the kind of exhausting night you want to avoid 3 days before a Champions League clash in which you're chasing a goal away from home.

The collaborative midweek preview showed different perspectives, but we all seem to agree that, even though Milan has the upper hand, the game will be tough. Nobody's excluding a 0-0 draw, but it's mostly up to Milan to prove us wrong. Here's to a great derby with no Bonera and a Milan win that would put us in a superb position in the title race.