09.03.2017 15:30 - in: Serie A S

      Bianconeri and Rossoneri, round 4

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      Black and white meets black and red as the Italian giants collide for the fourth time this season at Juventus Stadium on Friday night
      We meet again...

      Juventus vs. AC Milan. For lovers of calcio, it does not really get any bigger than this. Friday’s encounter between the two Italian giants will be their fourth of the campaign and arguably the most important of all.

      After seven consecutive league wins, the Bianconeri had enjoyed undisputed domestic bragging rights in the fixture until the winter, defeats in Serie A at the San Siro and the Italian Super Cup in Doha adding a degree of balance to the rivalry in favour of the Rossoneri.

      Goals from Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic in the Coppa Italia last month though sent Juve through to the semi-finals at Milan’s expense and a further success tomorrow evening for Massimiliano Allegri’s men would keep them on course for glory on all three fronts this season; a Champions League last 16 second-leg meeting with Porto lies in wait next Tuesday night.

      Expect any dips in attention, focus or intensity however to be punished by Vincenzo Montella’s vibrant visitors - no one has taken more points from Juve in Serie A history than Milan (54 draws, 49 victories) – who will look to become the first Rossoneri side to taste success in Turin since March 2011.

      Fortress Juventus Stadium

      A disappointing draw in Udine last weekend brought an end to a run of 10 straight successes in all competitions for Juventus, who could not wish for a better fixture than Milan in front of their own supporters to return to winning ways.

      After all, the 2-0 dismissal of Empoli a fortnight ago was the Old Lady’s 30th win in a row at Juventus Stadium, a spell in which the champions have scored 71 times, conceding just 10 at the other end.

      A Spring awakening from Milan in recent weeks – picking up 13 points from a possible 15 after registering three consecutive defeats against Napoli, Udinese and Sampdoria at the end of January - will give them slight hope of an upset against a side that hasn’t gone more than one game without a win since September 2015.

      That said, the Rossoneri are the only team to have prevented Juventus from scoring in Serie A this season: the Bianconeri’s blank in October marked their only goalless encounter in 39 league outings.

      Key men

      Gonzalo Higuain has been one of the primary reasons behind such a stellar scoring run, the Argentine has found the net in exactly half of the matches he has played for the club (18 in 36) in all competitions so far. After two games without a goal, the law of averages is strongly in Pipita’s favour tomorrow evening.

      Fellow South American Carlos Bacca meanwhile has rediscovered his scoring touch over the same period, netting three in his last two after a barren run of five outings without one.

      A scorer in the Coppa Italia quarter-final tie against Juve, Bacca’s goals to shots ratio (31 per cent) is bettered only by the division’s leading marksman Andrea Belotti (33).

      Other key Milan men to watch? Wideman Suso was a constant menace to the Juve defence in Qatar while fellow Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu  has set up 14 chances for his team-mates (two per game), hit the woodwork three times, scored once and assisted twice since arriving on loan from Everton in January.


      Not that the pre-match intrigue is all about the strikers: the battle of the Italian goalkeeping generations will be resumed on Friday as Gianluigi Buffon and Gianluigi Donnarumma face off once more. Both keepers will surely have a significant say in the direction of the three points at Juventus Stadium.

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