Juventus might be on top of the Serie A table but it is too early to consider them as serious contenders before they can register a notable win against one of the elite teams such as Milan or Napoli. The upcoming fixtures will offer the Bianconeri the perfect opportunity to measure their improvement and how far they have gone since seeing former captain Antonio Conte take over as coach. In fact, there is no need to look beyond this weekend as Juve will host Serie A champions Milan in one of the most anticipated matches of the season.
Despite unimpressive results in the last two matches, the Bianconeri have yet to lose and have shown glimpses of what they can do. Conte possesses a plethora of options in both attack and midfield as well as Gianluigi Buffon who at one point was regarded by many as the best goalkeeper in the world. The Old Lady can lineup in multiple formations with midfielders such as Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal more than capable of adapting to playing in different positions while veteran Andrea Pirlo is proving to be a great addition after his free summer move to Turin. In attack, Juve can still count on club legend Alessandro Del Piero as well as a host of forwards such as Mirko Vucinic, Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella.
Milan’s start to the season has been far from impressive but the extensive injury list might have to do with much of the disappointing results. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato and Robinho as well as a host of other players have missed matches for one reason or another. Despite these injuries and the unconvincing results, the Rossoneri are only three point behind the leaders Juventus. Their clash at Juve’s stadium will serve as a crucial stepping stone for both clubs since a Bianconeri win will show that Conte’s team is perhaps ready to mount a serious challenge this year while the Rossoneri will be gravely hurt by a loss against their rivals.
For Juventus to win, the defensive line must perform better as mistakes have already creeped into their game as witnessed by the goals conceded against both Bologna and then Catania. Juve will also need a big game from former Milan playmaker Pirlo who will be expected to orchestrate attacks for the Old Lady in this anticipated clash. New signings Vidal and Eljero Elia did not impress against Catania and will have to play much better if their team is to upend the visiting Rossoneri.
On the other hand, Milan will hope to get Ibrahimovic back for the game while Pato is sidelined for a few weeks which means more opportunities for both Antonio Cassano and youngster Stephen El Shaarawy to stake a claim for playing time this season. Prior to the beginning of Serie A, some were expecting Cassano to leave as they were anticipating Milan to use Ibrahimovic along with Brazilian duo Pato and Robinho while giving little playing time for Cassano. At this point, even veteran Filippo Inzaghi might get more minutes than he could have dreamt of.
An interesting battle could ensue in midfield where the aforementioned Pirlo will likely face former Bianconeri midfielder Alberto Aquilani. Juventus did not pick an option to sign Aquilani, who had a fairly solid season in Turin while on loan from Liverpool, after signing Pirlo. This could result in a competitive challenge between the two midfielders and perhaps influence the progress of the match depending on the player capable of dictating tempo and passing for his team. Obviously, Juve will have the advantage of resting during midweek when Milan play in the Champions League.
This Sunday, all eyes in Italy will be turned to Juve’s new stadium where two of Italy’s most decorated clubs will face off in a bid to further enhance their respective chances of winning the league title. Milan want to repeat as Serie A champions while the Bianconeri might be the hungrier of the two sides as they seek to rediscover the glory days pre-Calciopoli.