AC Milan vs Juventus: The Rossoneri face tough test against the Bianconeri

Juventus v AC Milan - Italian Serie A
REUTERS.COM/Giorgio Perottino

AC Milan will be hoping to become the first team since Sassuolo to beat Juventus this season when they welcome the Bianconeri to the Stadio San Siro on Saturday.

The Rossoneri, who finished in 8th and 10th in the past few seasons, currently sit in sixth. However, with just one win out of their past five games, and the plucky Neroverdi on their tails, Milan are in danger of missing out on Champions League football for the third straight season. The ever-outspoken president Silvio Berlusconi has made no secret to see the team return to European competition in the 2016/2017 campaign. So desperate has he been to have the Diavolo feature in Europe’s premier club competition that three, yes, three coaches have already paid the price for failure.

One of them, Massimiliano Allegri, has really enjoyed quite a bit of success since being sacked in January 2014. In his debut season, the former Rossoneri boss clinched a domestic double and guided Juventus to their first Champions League final in over a decade. This term, despite a rough start to the 2015/2016 season, the Bianconeri have now overtaken Inter, Fiorentina, Roma, and Napoli to enjoy a six point lead on top of the table with seven rounds remaining. And should they, as expected, pick up another three points at the San Siro, La Vecchia Signora will extend the gap between themselves and the Partenopei to nine points – that is, until Maurizio Sarri’s men play on Sunday.

Both Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi – two of AC Milan’s most celebrated players were sacked after leaving the team in 8th and 10th place. Siniša Mihajlović, who was reportedly even signed before Inzaghi’s dismissal also looks set to be jettisoned by the impatient Berlusconi, and with four coaches in just three seasons, one can only wonder how this will even help the AC Milan’s dire situation at all. After all, a manager can only do the best he can with the players at his disposal, but for all intents and purposes, the Serbian tactician appears to be yet another casualty of Berlusconi’s quest to see the team back among Europe’s elite as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately for the struggling hosts – who will also play Juventus in the Coppa Italia – they have a poor track record against the Bianconeri. How bad? Well, AC Milan have not beaten Juventus since November 25, 2012. They have lost their past six meetings versus La Vecchia Signora, including a 1-0 reversal at Juventus Stadium earlier this season.

In addition, as noted before, Saturday’s hosts have been in a very poor run of form as of late, with just that one win out of their past five matches. By contrast, Juventus have won all but one of their matches since losing to Sassuolo on October 28th. Only Bologna, to date, has managed to even nick one points off La Vecchia Signora, and they are indeed the heavy favorites to make it a seventh straight victory this weekend.

Both Mihajlović and Allegri will be missing some key players for this game. Andrea Bertolacci sits out for AC Milan due to a ban, and M’Baye Niang as well as Juraj Kucka will not feature due to injury. As for the visitors, Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini miss out as a result of injury problems, whilst Sami Khedira is still unavailable following his suspension.

This match, of course, will also feature veteran shot-stopper Gianluigi Buffon versus his namesake and rising starlet Gianluigi Donnarumma. The 17-year-old has been touted as the future no. 1 of Italy after his 38-year-old idol retires, and Buffon himself has been full of praise for the emerging youngster, who has been one of AC Milan’s best performers this season.

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Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.