PRE MATCH: JUVENTUS VS MILAN
Here we go. Juventus vs Ac Milan, with a Championship League qualifying spot on the line, and Andrea Pirlo's job as well. It's very simple for the Old Lady to just keep winning these last four games and Pirlo's job might be saved. But even that's up in the air.
Recent results have left third place Juve locked on 69 points with Atalanta and Milan going into the weekend's action, while Napoli and Lazio continue to lurk close behind.
The Coppa Italia finalists, who face Atalanta in the cup decider later this month, were narrow 2-1 winners last time out in the league, against mid-table Udinese. Pirlo and company were indebted to yet another Ronaldo brace - both goals coming in the final 10 minutes - as the Capocannoniere leader orchestrated their comeback after the Friulani had taken a surprise lead early on.
Ronaldo has now scored more than one goal on nine separate occasions in Serie A this season and the age-defying Portuguese superstar last registered more multiples back in 2014-15 (with 12 doubles or trebles for Real Madrid), while only Erling Haaland has done so more often throughout the top five European Leagues this term.
While his team's away form continues to be patchy, Juventus cannot be counted against on home soil this term, as they are second only to new champions Inter in the 'home only' standings, having returned with maximum points from 13 of 17 road trips so far.
Not only that, but the Turin giants have won each of their last nine Serie A home matches against Sunday's opponents Milan and put the first significant chink in the Winter Champions' armor back in January, by defeating the Rossoneri 3-1 at San Siro.
As Milan had lost back-to-back games before last weekend's 2-0 success against relegation-threatened Benevento, head coach Stefano Pioli's position was being called into question - seemingly an unthinkable proposition just a few weeks ago.
The Rossoneri have faded badly in 2021 - slipping lamely out of Europe to Manchester United and now drifting perilously close to missing out on an apparently certain top-four finish.
Ahead of a testing trip to Turin, it has been Milan's exceptional away form that has kept them afloat in recent times - the Rossoneri only missed out on the chance to become the first team to win 14 of their first 16 games on the road in a Serie A season due to a recent 3-0 loss at Lazio.
Final Analysis and Prediction:
Whoever wins this game, will likely be in good shape to qualify for next year's Champions League.
The Old Lady's recent domination of this fixture in recent years can continue, despite the confirmation that their Serie A crown has been stolen by Milan's city rivals.
A pale shadow of their former selves of late, the ragged Rossoneri have often suffered at the Allianz Stadium, so even the best away record in the league cannot keep them from falling to a third defeat in four - a bitter blow for their Champions League dreams.
Final Score: Juven