Juventus take on Milan in Turin tomorrow night.
The game could have a huge impact on the only competitive title race left in Europe’s top five leagues.
Anything other than a win for the hosts will open the door for Napoli.
Milan haven’t won away to Juventus since the 2010/11 season, but the current crop may take heart from events that day…
First of all, let’s take a look at the line-ups for a nostalgia hit…
Hang on, Armand Traore? The Nottingham Forest left-back on loan at Cardiff? Okay then…
As you’d expect from a midfield that includes Gattuso, Van Bommel, Flamini, Melo and Marchisio, much of the game was more of a battle than a football match.
The referee was happy to let a warzone develop and while Milan dominated possession, much of it occurred in nonthreatening territory.
A classical Italian encounter, both teams displayed supreme tactical awareness and soon became clear the opening goal would likely be the winner…
Step forward, Rino Gattuso.
Milan’s combative midfield general only scored 18 goals his whole career.
So when a scrappy passage of play ended up with the ball falling to him on the edge of Juventus’ box, few fans would have backed him to beat arguably the greatest keeper to ever play the game.
But that’s exactly what he did.
A left-foot strike in the 68th minute burst though Buffon’s hands, ending Gattuso’s three-year goalless spell.
His team-mates could barely contain themselves — Zlatan Ibrahimovic pushed his skipper to the ground before embracing him like a long-lost lover.
Juve brought on Alessandro Del Piero and Vincenzo Iaquinta and but Milan’s formidable centre-back pairing of Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta held firm.
These days, Gattuso is in Milan’s dugout and though their performances haven’t been particularly inspiring under his leadership, the results have improved dramatically.
Unbeaten in 13 games in domestic competitions, Milan count Inter, Lazio and Roma as recent victims and will hoping to add top dogs Juventus to that list on Sunday night.
Seven years ago, Gattuso inspired Milan to victory as a player.
Can he do the same tomorrow as a manager?
Napoli will certainly hope so…
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