What: Italian Serie A
Who: Juventus vs AC Milan
When: Sunday 21st April, 2013, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy

Feeling Closer

Juventus can practically feel a 29th league accolade drawing closer and closer. With six league games remaining, Juventus need just seven points to be crowned consecutive league winners. However, AC Milan won the last time the two sides met in the league, and Juventus will have to put on a strong display against a team that will be fighting with everything they has to assure third place in the standings and therefore, Champions League participation for the 2013/14 season.

The Bianconeri have been in fine form in the league recently, winning all of their last five Serie A games. They should be comfortable at home in front of their own fans, but defender Leonardo Bonucci believes that his club will be in for a tough side against the seven-time Champions League winners.

“We’re up against an in-form Milan team, as is shown by their results in 2013. Along with the memory of defeat in the reverse fixture, this will give us extra motivation for Sunday because not only do we want to get our own back on them but we’re also looking to take another step towards Scudetto triumph”, said Bonucci.

Having been unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, Juventus will need to wrap up this title as soon as possible.

Competitive Side

Milan’s good form – four wins and two draws in their last six Serie A games – has allowed the Rossoneri to stay in the hunt for the third place in the Italian league standings. Mathematically, the four-point gap separating them and fourth-placed Fiorentina can be reversed in just two games, but the general feeling is that the league bronze medal is Milan’s to lose.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side drew against the Viola in their penultimate game, and will face Catania, Torino, Pescara, Roma and Siena in their last matches; clashes that they could negotiate should they play their cards right.

Speaking ahead of this match, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has praised his side, while ruing their poor form at the start of the season. “In the league, we shouldn’t be looking ahead or behind, we just have to get as many points as possible. We’re unbeaten in 2013 and that’s very positive. It’s thanks to everyone at the club, the coach and the players. It’s unfortunate that we started so badly”, claimed the club’s CEO.

Milan have been hit with a long list of absentees, namely Mario Balotelli. Recently named in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, his presence upfront alongside M’Baye Niang and Stephan El Shaarawy will be sorely missed.

Recent form

Juventus 2-1 Pescara (06/04; Serie A)
Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich (10/04; Champions League)
Lazio 0-2 Juventus (15/04; Serie A)

AC Milan:
Chievo 0-1 AC Milan (30/03; Serie A)
Fiorentina 2-2 AC Milan (07/04; Serie A)
AC Milan 1-1 Napoli (14/04; Serie A)

Key absences

Juventus: Giorgio Chiellini; Simone Pepe; Nicolas Anelka (doubt); Sebastian Giovinco (doubt); Nicklas Bendtner (doubt)

AC Milan: Bojan Krkic (doubt); Kevin-Prince Boateng (doubt); Ignazio Abate (doubt); Bakaye Traore (doubt); Massimo Ambrosini (doubt); Didac Vila (doubt); Nigel de Jong; Mathieu Flamini (suspended); Mario Balotelli (suspended)

Players to watch

Juventus – Andrea Pirlo: The holding midfielder prepares to face his former club once again. Ever present in the heart of this Juventus team alongside partner Arturo Vidal, his passes and distribution will be crucial for Juventus to dictate play.

Milan – Stephan El Shaarawy: The young Italian will have much on his shoulders as Milan are facing injuries and suspensions. He has 16 league goals to his name, but has shown he works alongside Balotelli – who is absent on the night. Alongside Niang and Giampaolo Pazzini, El Shaarawy could help decide the game.

Match Prediction

Milan have been in fine form ever since the turn of the year, but will face a tough opposition in the form of Juventus, who have lost just twice at home this season. Confident of clinching the league title, they should dispose of Milan on the night.

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