AC Milan prepare to take on a depleted Juventus side at the San Siro on Saturday, boosted by the return of captain Riccardo Montolivo, who is expected to start in midfield for the hosts.
Sami Khedira will be unavailable for Juventus, with the Germany international serving a suspension for the red card he received in the Turin derby for his show of dissent against the referee. The Bianconeri won the match 4-1 and Khedira managed to get on the scoresheet before his dismissal. Massimiliano Allegri’s men are yet to lose a match in the league in which the 29-year-old has started and as such, there is no doubt that the former Real Madrid midfielder’s absence will be felt.
Stefano Sturaro, a former Juventus youth academy product who was bought back from Genoa last season will replace him at the heart of the midfield alongside Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio. Sturaro has already put up a number of memorable performances for the Italian giants, with the one against Real Madrid last year in the Champions League semi-final standing out in particular.
Juventus are also likely to miss Paulo Dybala through injury. The ex-Palermo man has provided the X Factor in Juve’s attack this season with 14 goals and 8 assists. It was his goal that decided the reverse fixture in the league against Milan in Turin last year.
With Giorgio Chiellini out for an additional three weeks, young Danielle Rugani is to partner Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli once again in defence. The young Italian may not have had the best of starts to his Juve career, but is still one of the most highly rated prospects in Italy.
AC Milan midfielder Andrea Bertolacci will also be serving a suspension after earning a second yellow card against Atalanta, a match Milan lost 2-1. However, the impressive Juraj Kucka, who was also Bertolacci’s teammate at Genoa, seems to have recovered from his injury and is all set to start against Juventus.
It is uncertain who will partner Kucka in midfield at this stage. Gazzetta dello Sport had predicted two days ago that Jose Mauri, the young Argentine brought last year from the relegated Parma, might be given the nod by Mihajlovic.
Milan CEO Adriano Galliani also suggested in a recent interview that 17-year-old midfielder Manuel Locatelli could be handed his first start.
However, with Riccardo Montolivo’s sooner-than-expected recovery, he remains the most likely candidate to anchor the midfield alongside Kucka.
Alessio Romagnoli and Alex will start at the heart of the defence, flanked on either side by Ignazio Abate and Luca Antonelli.
Up front, in the absence of M’baye Niang and Jeremy Menez, Mihajlovic could turn to Mario Balotelli despite Luiz Adriano’s goal against Atalanta last weekend.
Milan have the advantage in terms of player availability
The hosts will have a full squad ahead of their game against Juventus, who are missing key players. But perhaps Mihajlovic would like to hand an opportunity to Jose Mauri, who impressed during his time at Parma and also scored against Juventus the last time he faced them.
It remains a mystery as to why the Serb doesn’t trust the youngster and instead insists on playing Montolivo, who is far from his best at the moment. Even with a depleted squad however, Juventus still have enough quality to see them through the match with relative ease.