Pitchside Europe

European match of the weekend: Milan and Juve return to scene of ‘crime’

Juventus' goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saves a header from AC Milan's Sulley Muntari which appeared to cross the …

Milan welcome Serie A champions and current league leaders Juventus to the San Siro as the two sides who locked horns in last season's title race find themselves miles apart from one another during the current campaign.

Last season's meeting between the two sides in Milan was a top-of-the-table clash which ended in controversy and proved to be a decisive moment in the season.

Leading 1-0 and dominating the match, Milan had a second goal disallowed when officials failed to spot that Sulley Muntari's header had crossed the line. Juventus snatched an equaliser and went on to win the title.

Partly because of the incident, the Italian federation decided to adopt UEFA's system of having extra officials behind each goal line for Serie A this season.

This time, Juventus are again top while Milan are a modest 12th, having lost six of their 13 games, after a summer of selling top players to balance the books.

However, their 3-1 win at Anderlecht on Wednesday has guaranteed them a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, bringing some relief to coach Massimiliano Allegri and giving them renewed optimism.

"I'm happy for the team and the club which has achieved the first target of the season with a game in hand," said Allegri. "We need more experience which we'll get as we're young."

Milan v Juventus: head to head

Although their 3-0 Champions League win over Chelsea on Tuesday was ultimately emphatic, Juve's final pass was rarely up to the superb approach work of an Andrea Pirlo-inspired five-man midfield.

Both opening goalscorer Fabio Quagliarella and Mirko Vucinic, his striking partner on Tuesday, were good at pulling their markers wide but were also guilty of squandering numerous openings.

Vucinic, often criticised as being too individualistic, had Juventus fans howling with frustration early in the second half when he shot wildly over from a position where he had no realistic chance of scoring.

Shortly afterwards, he wasted another chance by going to ground under a challenge from Gary Cahill and claiming a penalty, instead of trying to get his shot in.

Quagliarella, who scored the fortuitous opening goal, was also guilty of trying to score from a narrow angle instead of passing to the better-placed Stephan Lichtsteiner, who would have been left with the job of tapping the ball in.

All of those chances came with Juventus 1-0 ahead and the Italian champions, whose win is a huge boost for an increasingly discredited Serie A, may well have been punished for their profligacy against more incisive opponents.

Juve's performance was still good enough to send a warning to the rest of Europe that the twice former European champions.

"This was a beautiful night, like others which I have experienced with his squad," said goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. "When you give such a convincing show of strength, it's a big sign to both Europe and the whole of Italy.

"Some people had doubts about us, but if we play like this I think we cast those aside," he added. "We were hungrier, sharper, more attacking, more creative and with a little more precision could've scored even more."

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