MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 08: Robinho (R) of AC Milan competes with Andrea Pirlo of Juventus FC during the Tim Cup match between AC Milan and Juventus FC at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on February 8, 2012 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Juventus look to retake their lead at the top of the table as they travel to the San Siro to take on league leaders AC Milan. But will Antonio Conte's cautious football be enough to earn all three points for the Old Lady?
It's the clash of Week 25: AC Milan, at the top of the table, host Juventus, just one point behind and with a game in hand. A win at the San Siro could see Juve crowned Italian champions, just thirteen rounds before the season finishes. So see, this is the most important match of the season.
Alas, it could also be one of the most boring games of the season. The Old Lady may be unbeaten, but that streak is built upon cautious football, often leading to some fairly drab affairs, and a league-leading 10 draws. Milan, meanwhile, are still flying high from their 4-0 Champions League victory over Arsenal, but they'll be without the star of that show, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Ibra may not be racking up the goals from open play, but he is unquestionably the genius behind the rossoneri. But even after 30 years on the planet, he still hasn't learned to control his temper, and is still feeling the after-effects of a rash decision to slap Salvatore Aronica in the face during the match against Napoli. Despite the fact that the partenopei were secretly cheering Ibra, the Swede lost his appeal, and will serve the remainder of his three-match ban.
In absence of Zlatan, Alexandre Pato and Robinho will start up top in Max Allegri's 4-3-1-2 system. With Kevin-Prince Boateng almost certainly out with injury yet again (the effects of scoring a gorgeous goal against Arsenal, or too much sex again? You decide), and Clarence Seedorf also suffering, Urby Emanuelson will take on the trequartista role. Sully Muntari, who had a dream debut against Cesena last week, will join Antonio Nocerino and Mark van Bommel in midfield. Philippe Mexes may get another start, but if not, it will be the usual Ignazio Abate - Alessandro Nesta - Thiago Silva - Luca Antonini back line.
For the visitors, it's almost certain that Antonio Conte will continue using that dreary 3-5-2, which may see Juve having conceded just 14 goals this season, but often leads to a boring display on the field. The antics come from the front two, with Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic competing to see who is able to miss the target in the most dramatic fashion. Matri, at least, manages to get the ball in the back of the net at times, so he'll likely get the start, while it'll be a toss up between Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella to fill the other shirt. Simone Pepe is back from injury, so he'll start in midfield, along with Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal, Claudio Marchisio, and, of course, Andrea Pirlo, back to face his old team. Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini will take their places in front of Gigi Buffon.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, February 25, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. CET
Venue: San Siro, Milan, Italy
TV: FOX Soccer Channel (USA - English), FOX Deportes (USA - Spanish), The Score (Canada), ESPN (UK)