AC Milan play Juventus on Saturday evening at the San Siro in what is set to be a 6-pointer between the two Serie A giants, who have a combined 55 Italian top-flight titles between them.
Current Scudetto holders Milan sit 5th in Serie A, two places and four points ahead of their Turin-based rivals. But given how tight the league is in what is set to be the most exciting title race in Europe, the Rossoneri only sit three points behind leaders Napoli.
Milan come into the game off the back of a thumping at the hands of Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, losing 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. Manager Stefano Pioli made it clear that his side need to improve defensively.
“We have conceded a few too many goals. We have to do better. Chelsea were good at exploiting our mistakes on Wednesday. We have to pay more attention and make fewer mistakes,” said Pioli in his press conference ahead of the game against Juve.
Pioli then went on to answer a question about Milan’s defensive frailties being a result of playing more attacking football.
“It is true that we are more attacking this season as we are playing with a more offensive attacking midfielder. But I think it depends on this, because in many situations we are in numerical superiority and therefore we could have done better.”
If Milan fail to win, it could see the gap between them and Napoli increase, casting doubt on their chances of retaining their crown. It would also see them suffer back-to-back losses for the first time since April 2021, which would come as a massive shock to their confidence.
Juventus, on the other hand, are fighting for a UEFA Champions League spot. The Old Lady have started the season off in relatively poor form, sitting 9th in the Serie A standings and reportedly already eyeing up a move for Antonio Conte.
Juve won their first game of the current UEFA Champions League campaign this week, beating Maccabi Haifa in Turin. However, the Old Lady still face an uphill battle trying to qualify for the next round as both PSG and Benfica sit on 7 points, occupying the top 2 spots of the group.
Max Allegri is under immense pressure at Juve, with many wanting to see the back of the Italian’s antagonistic style of play. Former AC Milan manager and Italian football legend Arrigo Sacchi urged the Bionconeri to take lessons from Napoli, who look like the best Italian team this season whilst deploying a pragmatic system.
“Napoli won by practicing what the Dutch call” totalvoetbal “and showed that, if they wanted to and if they weren’t anchored to old concepts such as bolt and counter-attack, the other Italian teams could take that path. Do the Italian coaches want to understand that the game is the only thing that really matters, it costs nothing, it doesn’t make the budgets go red and never gets injured?” said Sacchi via Calciomercato.
Juventus need a win from the trip to Milan to keep their hopes of qualifying for next season’s UCL hopes alive, with the competitiveness of Serie A, particularly at the top, meaning the record-Scudetto winners can’t afford to fall any further behind the Europe-chasing pack.
AC Milan 1 – 2 Juventus
The confidence levels among the Milan side seem to be shot at this moment in time, and the return of Angél Di Maria for Juve is key, as we saw in the midweek fixture. Despite the Bionconeri’s sketchy form heading into the game, they always seem to turn up in the big fixtures when they need it most. Furthermore, a loss in this game for Juventus may be costlier than Milan coming away from the losing side. A lot at stake for the Old Lady