Hassan Chamas

What: Italian Serie A
Who: AC Milan (3rd; 67 points) vs Juventus (7th; 55 points)
When: Saturday 15th May, 2010, at 20:45 CET
Where: Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

The Nightmare is Over

What a horrific season it has been for AC Milan. Deprived of the resources that an ageing squad needs to rejuvenate itself, the team had to endure their owner’s unwillingness to plunge deep into the summer transfer market, with their most prolific signing being Real Madrid reject Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from Real Madrid, for the sum of €15M.

The Rossoneri did not prove the pundits wrong over the course of their season: Their worrying average age, coupled with a lack of team depth in certain positions meant that the seven-time Champions League winners proved to be no match for the likes of rivals Internazionale and AS Roma, and as such, find themselves in third place entering the season’s final fixture.

Coach Leonardo comes into the game knowing full well that this could be his last one in charge of Il Diavoli. Names such as Marco van Basten and Mauro Tassotti have been thrown around as Milan’s next coach. With Leonardo already on Silvio Berlusconi’s bad side, his chances of keeping his job beyond this season look very slim.

Simply Below Par

If Milan’s campaign is to be labelled a “disappointment”, then Juventus’s is nothing less than utter failure. The signing of Brazilian duo Felipe Melo and Diego was supposed to end the Old Lady's post-Calciopoli crisis, but both South Americans flopped after promising debuts as Bianconeri players.

The first person to suffer the consequences of Juventus's demise this year was previous coach Ciro Ferrara, as question marks were posed as to why La Vecchia Signora’s hierarchy decided to extend a contract that was supposed to end last summer. Ferrara’s inability to cope on such a stage was there for everybody to see as the team simply became an embarrassment.

As the former defensive master was shown the door, Alberto Zaccheroni was called upon to rally the troops. Doing a good job at first, Juventus’s season spiraled down into turmoil as they crashed out of the Europa League against eventual finalists Fulham, in one of the silliest displays ever seen.

Recent form

AC Milan:
Palermo 3-1 Milan (24/04; Serie A)
Milan 1-0 Fiorentina (01/05; Serie A)
Genoa 1-0 Milan (09/05; Serie A)

Juventus 3-0 Bari (25/04; Serie A)
Catania 1-1 Juventus (02/05; Serie A)
Juventus 2-3 Parma (09/05; Serie A)

Key absences

AC Milan: Daniele Bonera (doubt); Massimo Oddo (doubt); Ignazio Abate (doubt); Kakha Khaladze (doubt); Alexandre Pato; David Beckham; Oguchi Onyewu

Juventus: Jonathan Zebina (doubt); Mohamed Sissoko; Sebastian Giovinco; Zdenek Grygera; Antonio Chimenti

Players to watch

AC Milan – Ronaldinho: The Brazilian was a man reborn this season at Milan, often being the star in what seemed to be a disinterested squad. After missing out on Dunga’s Brazil list for the South African World Cup, the former Barcelona ace will be eager the end the season on a high note.

Juventus – Gianluigi Buffon: If there’s one man who needs to be on top form for club and country, it’s Buffon. The world’s most expensive goalkeeper will be one of the leading names in a rather mediocre Italian squad that will be heading to the World Cup. A solid match against Milan will be a good omen for anxious Azzurri fans.

Match prediction

It is a real shame for a meeting that used to define the outcome of the Serie A season in previous terms to have lost its hype. Milan and Juventus have been a shadow of their former selves, and their domestic and continental results all but confirm their current form. Milan do hold the advantage of playing on home soil, and will want to end the season on a bright note. However, they have lost at the San Siro before, and a lackluster performance could prove to be costly for them.


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