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Real Madrid vs AC Milan, Match Preview

It's only a friendly, but Carlo's men will surely look to end 2014 on a high note.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

AC Milan is the only club in Europe to claim a stake that they're (more or less) on par with Real Madrid when it comes to prestigious titles won. However, the current state of the two organizations really couldn't be further apart. Financial austerity, coupled with poor transfer dealings and inept leadership, has caused a proud organization once on level with Real Madrid to sadly rely on the likes of Philippe Mexes and Jeremy Menez to win them points whereas Madrid are freely hoovering up the world's best. While one is winning titles left and right the other is relying on castoffs to stay afloat in the hopes of somehow just making it back to the Champions League.

On points, AC Milan only sits two behind Champions League qualification but that doesn't paint the whole picture. They are wildly inconsistent, have no out-and-out striker, their manager still can't seem to find the most optimal formation for his players, the two wonderkids who were seen as pillars for years to come have stagnated in their development and there doesn't seem to be any kind of solution in the near future. While this is still only a friendly, in all honesty it's hard not to see Madrid winning it relatively easy.

Milan will likely line up in a 4-3-3 for all intents and purposes. Menez, scorer of earth-shattering spectacular goals and one-man wrecking crew of his own team's offense when he's not scoring, will be the focal point up top as he already has eight goals to his name. He'll likely be joined in attack by Keisuke Honda and Stephan El Sharaawy, the one-time phenom who has been beset by injuries and can't seem to regain the form of a couple years ago. Behind them will be Nigel De Jong, the team's best player and likely Andrea Poli and Riccardo Montolivo. The back line will be without the services of Ignazio Abate or former wonderkid Mattia De Sciglio so there shouldn't be much to worry about for Madrid. Diego Lopez will be tending the net and for those wondering, he's having a very good season keeping Milan alive, one uncharacteristically poor showing against Parma aside. Pippo Inzaghi will be at the helm, taking over from the failed Clarence Seedorf experiment.

Statistically, there's not much interesting to say about Milan. Defensively, they give up over 13 shots per game, which has to be worrying when going up against shot monster Madrid. However, they're tops in Serie A in interceptions per game with over 20 steals per 90. On offense, they scored a decent amount of goals in the league so far, 25, but only keep the ball 52 percent of the time while completing passes at an 82 percent success rate. Their biggest success comes on the counter as they've got the trickery and pace to cause trouble, but if defenses set up shop then it becomes a challenge for the ball to find the back of the net. Some of this is due to so many wide players playing as makeshift striker, but hey, at least they have one in the form of Fernando Torres. Oh wait...

On the other side of the coin, expect more of the same from Madrid when it comes to the starting lineup, though Sergio Ramos and Marcelo didn't make the trip so this will be a good chance for Raphael Varane and Fabio Coentrao to get some valuable minutes. The midfield will likely consist of Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and Isco with the BBC up top. Given that it's a friendly against a competitor which is noticeably below Madrid's level, we could be hopefully seeing some early second half rotations in play.

Projected AC Milan lineup: Lopez; Bonera, Mexes, Zapata, Armero; Poli, de Jong, Montolilvo; Honda, El Shaarawy; Menez

Projected Real Madrid lineup: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Coentrao; Rodriguez, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Ronaldo; Benzema

Projected score: 3-1 in favor of Real Madrid.

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