Can they avoid the drama? Juventus look forward to hosting Milan

Posted by Mina Rzouki

A game between two giants, Juventus will face Milan on Sunday night in Turin. Controversy reigns supreme when these two footballing sides face each other. Whether it be a phantom goal or a non-existent penalty, no team ever really wins this match -- referees will be mocked, criticisms will be aimed and tactics will be analysed at length. It may not be a derby but it is indeed the ideal match for the quiet conspiracy theorist within us all.

- Juve bounce back from Europe woes

The last time these two sides met in Serie A, Robinho scored the only goal in the San Siro from the penalty spot. A ludicrous decision indeed, but on the night, the Rossoneri deserved the victory despite Juventus dominating possession. Suffering her second loss of the season, the Old Lady was fatigued after her Champions League win against Chelsea and thus failed to truly impose herself away from home.

As such, Max Allegri's men controlled proceedings, exhibited the unity of the side and displayed the talent of the youngest and brightest assets. Their dribbling proved superior and their transitional play more effective but perhaps the real reason Milan won the reverse tie was because they simply wanted it more.

Since then, Milan have continued to grow, developing into a team unit that were handed the cherry on the top when Mario Balotelli arrived in January. Blessed with young attacking talent, the Rossoneri have everything Juventus want: forwards who can finish goal-scoring opportunities.

With the Bianconeri needing only seven points from their next six matches, it seems there is no need to really overly exert themselves on Sunday night. It's almost in the bag and the Scudetto has their name all over it. Complacency may well prove to be an issue no matter how much they insist that they will not take their foot of the gas.

However, for Milan, a win in Turin will help solidify their place in next year's Champions League and will allow them to continue challenging Napoli for second place in the league. They are bound to be hungrier, more determined and more willing to exploit the smallest of errors.

Desperate to prove they are not inferior to their rivals, CEO Adriano Galliani reassured the Milan fans that next year his club will be back to challenging for the title. Second place is the objective for this season, but do they have what it takes?

While Silvio Berlusconi's club has grown leaps and bounds since their catastrophic start to the campaign, they still lack the mental fortitude necessary to finish off games. Against Fiorentina, we saw a Milan side that suffered great lapses of concentration after scoring their goals thinking they secured all the points. Complacency kicked in and allowed the Viola to fight back to secure a point and prevent them from closing the gap on Napoli.

Barring the odd problems with concentration, Allegri's men must also work on their defensive discipline. While they indeed shocked Barcelona with the manner in which they worked as a unit to prevent any penetration, they are susceptible to long shots, the diagonal crosses and to conceding from set pieces. After that win against Juventus, they won three of their next four league matches but conceded eight goals in the process. They may be more cohesive in their manner but they are far from being the ideal defensive unit.

Against Juve, they will look to attack down the wings and will exploit their pace and attacking flair within to trouble the champions. In order for Juventus to prevent attacks, they must control the ball in midfield and it's likely they will depend on the same formation that proved so successful in their last match against Lazio.

By playing a 3-5-1-1 in attack with Claudio Marchisio playing behind Mirko Vucinic, Juventus will facilitate the fluidity of their attacking moves and will benefit from the added mobility to their game. Their opponents will not have a clear reference point to mark and may thus afford the likes of Andrea Pirlo more time to dictate and Arturo Vidal more opportunities to make the right runs from midfield.

Moreover, by playing Paul Pogba in the middle, Antonio Conte will hope to rely on his physicality to impede the pace within the Milan attack as well as ensure greater control of the ball. In many ways, you could say Juventus are quietly confident of their quality.

However, Milan are also in a positive mood. "The matches against Juventus are always special -- there is no need to talk them up further," explained Kevin-Prince Boateng. Indeed they are, two footballing giants facing each other is a delicious match to anticipate. One only hopes that come Monday morning, we are only discussing the football and not the drama. "This time we'll kick the ball harder in order to make it clear for everyone that the ball has crossed the line," smiled Boateng.

That is of course, if the Old Lady lets you kick the ball, Prince.

May the best giant win.

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