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 in this collaborative post. 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! - Elaine
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?
Gianfranco: Cassano, Cassano, Cassano, in the last match if you recall Milan played well they just couldn’t find that final pass or finishing touch, with Cassano on the pitch you have to believe that won’t be the case any longer! Can I say Luca Toni so we can all have a good laugh?? I am kidding, but if defensively Chiellini can get the best of Zlatan then Milan will have trouble, Juventus lack a real threat in the attack since Krasic has blown hot and cold so defending will be of the utmost importance to them on this day.
Jorid: As far as Juventus is concerned, I'm going to have to go with 2 players instead of one: Chiellini and Martinez. The first is an obvious choice, he's been the defensive leader of the team for years now, his contribution is immense and every time he and Zlatan face one another, sparks fly. With Aquilani injured and Pepe suspended, Marchisio will line up in his natural CM role, while I expect Martinez to start at left wing. Jorge's season has not been great so far but it was exactly against Milan at the San Siro that he played arguably his best football as a Juventino (same game he picked up an injury in) and I think he's finally due for a convincing performance. As far as Juve's biggest red and black headache, do I really have to even address this? Zlatan, Zlatan and more Zlatan. His quality and dominant presence is a match made in hell for a Juventus defense that has conceded 2 goals a piece against Lecce first and Bologna a week later and is looking awfully shaky, distracted and fairly slow.
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.
Gianfranco: Milan need the win, if you look back at the big losses in the first half of the campaign Juventus and Roma stick out like sore thumbs. If you reverse the results you don’t only get six points but you do what Title winning teams do, and that is not to lose twice to the same team! No doubt Juventus will come to play at home, but Milan need this one.
Aaron: Both- They each have massive motivations to do well, Milan to continue their Scudetto push, and Juve, to restore some kind of dignity. We've been shit the last month, but we did beat Inter at home.
Roberto: If you had asked this question two weeks ago, my answer would be Juventus. However fortunes in football can change dramatically in an instant and after the events that recently occurred to my club, my answer has changed as well. The team, who regrettably had only gotten fired up for big matches, has now seemingly lost their belief and self-esteem almost entirely. For that reason I expect Bianconeri to step-aside, rather than step it up.
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?
Jovan: Pirlo, no doubt. Milan's been missing a proper link between defense and attack.
Hugh: I expect a lot of Juve fans would say Quagliarella given his rich vein of form before Christmas and how badly the team has flopped since his injury, but for me it would actually be De Ceglie. Full-back problems have been the bane of our season hence moving Chiellini there recently. Before his injury, De Ceglie was starting to look like he was turning into a more than adequate LD and were he fit, and it's proven impossible to replace him from a defending or attacking perspective.
4) Putting only tactics head to head, which coach do you think would take this match, Del Neri or Allegri? Why?
Elaine: Allegri. He started out the season with some strange lineups and tactics and substitutions, but has shown a definitive learning curve, even if he’s not perfect. Del Neri, on the other hand seems to be learning from the old Allegri when it comes to lineups and substitutions, so a learning curve going the wrong way.
Roberto: Del Neri’s major concern will be the mental state of his players against Milan, not his on-field formation. However, things don’t look too promising on that front seeing as he had already tried to change their approach ahead of last week’s embarrassing loss at home to Bologna. As a result, one would have to give Allegri the advantage here as his task looks a lot less daunting at this point.
Aaron: Only tactics? Delneri, no doubt. Allegri's level of tactics is still very nascent, and there's a lot of evidence he doesn't really know how to tactically plan out the big games. The game in the San Siro in November was just embarrassing, Allegri had no idea what to do. There's a lot more to the game than a coaches level of tactics, though. Delneri could get it wrong, no doubt.
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?
Elaine: Okay, my marriage may depend on this one. But still, I’ll say Milan takes it, 2-1.
Jorid: I have a strange feeling Juventus will barely win this one. Don't ask me why. I wouldn't be surprised if the players squeak out 3 points at home against Milan and calm the waters at Juve momentarily, only to go and disappoint against Cesena...
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.