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Juventus v. Milan: An Italian Classic

With the big game coming up on Saturday, we thought we would have some friendly discussion while we are all still speaking. So bloggers from The Juventus Offside, The Milan Offside and the new Milan Obsession blogs have each taken a few minutes to answer the same five questions. You will find a different sampling of their answers at each blog, so feel free to visit each one to get them all and to join in the discussion! 
 "Italian Gothic"
by sposato al nemico

Special thanks to: Juventus Offside bloggers: Roberto, Aaron, Jorid, and Hugh, Milan Offside blogger: Gianfranco, Milan Obsession bloggers: Jovan and Elaine, and also thanks to sposato al nemico for the artwork.


1) Which of your team’s player(s) will make the biggest difference for this matchup? Which player(s) from the opposition will cause your team the most trouble?

Jovan: I think Robinho's role could be crucial against Juve. Juve plays a pretty static 4-4-2 so he should be able to find a lot of space between their defense and midfield. Also, I think we can rely on van Bommel and Gattuso to muscle Aquilani off the ball when he tries to move forward. As for the opposition, I'm worried about how our left back (whoever that may be at that point, your guess is as good as mine) will handle Krasic. Provided with enough space to build up speed, he could easily outrun his marker and make some dangerous crosses for the aerially strong Juve strikers.

Hugh: Chiellini will be the big player for Juventus. He's possibly our only world-class player at the moment and hopefully he will be moved back into the middle and provide us with a leader in the centre of the pitch as it's been difficult for him to control play from left-back. As for Milan, Zlatan has the ability to score from anywhere, at any time, no matter the circumstance.


2) Both teams have dropped points since the beginning of the calendar year. Which team do you think is most likely to step it up for this game? Explain.

Elaine: Who wrote these questions? I have to go with a 50/50 on this one. First of all, Juve won this fixture in October with Krasic banned and a boatload of injuries while playing at the San Siro, which shows they can really step it up for the big games. Milan have choked hard a few times this year, but have played better away than at home.

Hugh: As much as I'd like Juve to step it up as is they have a tendency to do in the big matches, the recent results against Lecce and Bologna will surely have had a huge mental effect on the squad and I'd be very impressed if they could pick themselves up enough for this one. Milan on the other hand still have work to do in order to secure the scudetto and although I expect them to play a careful game, they could take advantage of Juve's defensive frailties and lack of confidence.


3) Both teams have been plagued by injuries this season. If you could have one player back for this match who is out injured, who would it be?

Gianfranco: To be fair to Luca Toni I can say Bonera and we can have a laugh at a Milan player’s expense as well, but again kidding.  Pirlo gets a lot of flak for being slow and maybe outdated in the new look Allegri’s Milan but some of our best matches this season where the team attacked consistently were with Pirlo on the pitch.   Interesting to see what comes of Andrea this offseason, he may be wearing Black and White for all we know…

Aaron: De Ceglie. He's starting to train again, but broke his kneecap in this fixture last November at the San Siro. The kid had been showing outstanding growth this season, and this meant Traore or Grosso had to play at left-back. They were both awful, so Giorgio moved over to the left, although that was instigated by Delneri believing in Barzagli, but evidently not Legrottaglie. (Who made his seasonal start in this fixture last November, played immaculate, and then got dumped. Giant mistake) Right-back has been "managed" with Sorensen or Grygera, left-back has been a gap ever since. And to think, Bonera was stretchered off in that collision, and De Ceglie continued on the pitch for a few minutes. Who knew Bonera would be out a few weeks, and De Ceglie 4 months?

Roberto: The answer that most Juventus fans will offer is Paolo De Ceglie. The talented left-back was slowly being seen as the fulcrum, if I may, of Del Neri’s tactical system before fracturing his kneecap in this matchup at the San Siro in October. His absence has proved to be a huge monkey wrench in the coach’s plans as the upper-brass weren’t able to find a replacement capable of Paolo’s respectable defending and attacking since.


4) Putting only tactics head to head, which coach do you think would take this match, Del Neri or Allegri? Why?

Gianfranco: Allegri, usually I take the older wiser tactician in these matchups but Del Neri has been inconsistent this season and while the players share part of the blame, he has to as well. He did a great job besting Allegri at the San Siro, so you know Max is coming for blood.  If Del Neri tries the audacious 4-1-4-1 again expect the deep midfielder for Juventus to get a lot of heat and the defenders to have work very hard to counter-act Milan’s attacking phases. Now Allegri may come play for a tie, but at that point not sure what I would think or do about it!?

Jorid: Allegri should be able to take this match. Even though the discussion is about tactics only, Delneri's greatest concern will be to try to get his players to approach this game with the right mindset after two devastatingly ugly losses. Delneri's tactics haven't been great as of late either, his substitutions have been puzzling at times and Juve didn't seem to cope well with Bologna's decision to switch to a 3-5-2 just 30 minutes into the first half on Saturday.

5) Juventus won this matchup at the San Siro in October and are now playing at home. Do you think they will sweep this fixture? Your final score prediction?

Jovan: Juventus will certainly not sweep this fixture, I'm not excluding a victory for them similar to the one they earned against Inter, but I'd say Milan is more likely to come out on top. If I had to guess the score, I'd put my money on a late 1-0 Milan win.

Roberto: We won’t sweep this fixture and we’ll probably finish the season in worse shape than seventh place. Prediction, Del Neri doesn’t finish the season as Juventus’ head coach. Final score, take a wild guess.