AC Milan vs. Juventus: Who'll Win the Serie A Title Race and Why
Antonio Conte takes huge credit for reversing their title aspirations, which seemed doomed after Juve took just four points from four matches before this timely surge in form.
Milan feel hard done by, with the Rossoneri claiming they should be four points clear at the top of Serie A, rather than their current position (one point adrift of the Old Lady).
The argument is that Sulley Muntari's ghost goal, when Milan were leading Juventus 1-0, would have given the champions a 2-0 lead that would have, in all probability, delivered a first defeat of the season to Juventus. Given that Juve eventually equalised, thus earning a valuable point, a Milan victory would mean a three-point swing between the sides.
More recently, Robinho replicated that event, after the referee insisted Catania keeper Nicolas Spolli had cleared the Brazilian's shot off the line, despite replays proving the ball was certainly over the line. The score was 1-1 at the time, hence Milan's claim that they should be an additional two points better off.
Juventus can also claim to have the greater momentum of the two challengers, as Milan stumbled around in the aftermath of their Champions League exit to Barcelona. Juventus have the Coppa Italia final left on the agenda, which will surely make some impact on Conte's team selection before the season's end. The Rossoneri's entire focus will now be on retaining their title, and in the knowledge that they only have six games left in their season, this could ultimately become an advantage.
Who will win Serie A 2011/12?
I have carefully analysed the remaining fixtures of both sides and I have foreseen that Milan will retain their title, ultimately clinching the league by a solitary point. Both sides should avoid defeat in their remaining games, but I see Juventus drawing two matches—one more than Milan—to valiantly fall short.
I believe that Juventus will draw at home to Roma, who visit the Juventus Stadium on April 22, in what should be a mouthwatering encounter. The Giallorossi are closing in on Lazio, who occupy third place, sitting just four points behind their city rivals.
I also expect Juventus to drop points away to Cagliari, with the destination of the game currently undecided, due to the Sardinians' persisting stadium quarrel with the city council. Cagliari president Massimo Cellino moved the team's home game with Inter last weekend 1,000 km to the northeast in Trieste. The Isolani could potentially finish all of their remaining home games at the Stadio Nereo Rocco.
Nonetheless, Cagliari are in the midst of a relegation battle and currently lie just four points from the drop zone. Talisman Mauricio Pinilla, who served a one-game ban midweek, will be a handful for the Bianconeri to contain. Moreover, the tough-tackling trio of Radja Nainggolan, Daniele Conti and Albin Ekdal should provide a solid base that will frustrate Juventus, ultimately costing them the title.
I feel that the experience of the Rossoneri will be enough for them to retain their title, with a kind run of home fixtures. Siena away would potentially be difficult, but given that the Tuscans should have earned enough points to avoid the drop by then, Milan should pick up all three points there. Ultimately though, I feel the spoils will be shared. Two points should be dropped in the Derby della Madonnina against a rejuvenated Inter, who still sniff a minute chance of claiming third place.
It will be a magnificent feat for Massmiliano Allegri to have guided Milan to back-to-back scudetti in his first two seasons at the club, which will beautifully lay a foundation for the Rossoneri to begin a new assault on the Champions League next season.
Juventus, who I feel will admirably fall short of winning the scudetto, can be satisfied with a second-place finish, especially in the knowledge that Champions League football will return for the first time since 2009.
It will be compulsive viewing over the coming weeks, with both sides gifting us a rare combination of passion, drama and sheer quality as the season reaches its climax.
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