AC Milan are hoping to continue their excellent run of form since the restart when they lock horns with champions Juventus on Tuesday.
AC Milan have undoubtedly been one of the best performing teams in Italy since the restart of the 2019/20 Serie A campaign following a three-month break due to coronavirus. They have won all but two of their games in all competitions – a run of form that has brought them back in contention for a Europa League finish.
The Rossoneri are currently seventh in the league table with 46 points on the board. They are coming on the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 win over title challengers Lazio, meaning they are trailing fifth-placed AS Roma only by two points, with eight games still left to be played.
However, it was Juventus who actually stopped AC Milan in their tracks, on their very first game back from the lockdown. The Italian giants knocked their rivals out of the Coppa Italia with a 1-1 aggregate, with the Bianconeri advancing only due to their away goal advantage.
And in essence, Milan’s shocking 3-0 win over Lazio was actually a big help for Juventus, who now hold an almost unassailable seven-point lead at the top of the table. They are also in a good run of form, notably winning all of their league matches since the restart.
That being said, things could get really tricky at San Siro, especially with Milan heading into this game as one of the most in-form teams in the division. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of an enticing fixture in Serie A on Tuesday.
Tactics & Team News
AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli does have some injury concerns heading into this game. Especially in defence, Leo Duarte and Mateo Musacchio are both ruled out while Theo Hernandez sustained a knock in the last game. However, we expect the Frenchman to return to full fitness.
He should retain his role at left-back, with Pioli also likely to persist with Andrea Conti ahead of Davide Calabria on the opposite flank. Meanwhile, the absence of Musacchio means Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli are guaranteed starters at the heart of Milan’s four-man backline.
No changes are expected in central midfield either, with Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer set to continue forming the double-pivot. Lucas Biglia is an option should Pioli opt for a more defensive approach.
Moving forward, Hakan Calhanoglu also picked up a knock against Lazio. But much like Hernandez, he is also expected to recover in time, meaning the Turkish international should once again assume his role on the left wing.
Calhanoglu will be partnered by Giacomo Bonaventura and Alexis Saelemaekers as the creative trio. Saelemaekers, in particular, has shown a lot of promise over the past few weeks and is once again set to get the nod.
And finally, the Milan attack could once again be led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede did score against Lazio but was hooked off at half-time. And Pioli is likely to replicate that strategy, with Ante Rebic and Rafael Leao offering additional options in the number nine role.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Conti, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Bonaventura, Calhanoglu; Ibrahimovic
Maurizio Sarri has a host of key players out injured including defenders Giorgio Chiellini, Merih Demiral and Alex Sandro. Midfielder Sami Khedira is also out injured along with Mattia Di Sciglio. But, Juventus have learned to live without them, although the absence of Matthijs de Ligt and Paulo Dybala through suspension could be a blow.
De Ligt is most likely to be replaced by Daniele Rugani, with Sarri having no other options. The former Arsenal target is set to accompany ex-Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci in central defence while Juan Cuadrado and Danilo are once again set to occupy the full-back slots.
Moving on, Miralem Pjanic, who is set to join Barcelona next season in what was a rather questionable move by the Catalan board, is a fixed starter in midfield while the duo of Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur could also start over Aaron Ramsey and Blaise Matuidi.
And finally, in the attack, Dybala’s absence should pave the way for Gonzalo Higuain to return to the starting lineup. He should spearhead the Juventus attack alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi although Douglas Costa is a potential alternative to the latter.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Bonucci, Rugani, Danilo; Pjanic, Rabiot, Bentancur; Bernardeschi, Higuain, Ronaldo
- Juventus have won 17 of the last 26 Serie A meetings between the two sides dating back to 2006, including each of the last six.
- AC Milan have already faced their Turin rivals three times this season and have drawn twice.
- Milan have seen under 2.5 goals in 9 of their last 10 home matches against Juventus in all competitions.
- Juventus have scored at least 2 goals in their last 7 matches (Serie A).
- Milan have scored in their last 12 Serie A games, a run stretching back to January 6.
Player to Watch
It will be fascinating to see Ibrahimovic locking horns against Ronaldo in what will be one of the most high-end duels in European football this year. And needless to say, both the players are in a groove heading into this game.
Although Ronaldo is the obvious star, having netted a whopping 25 goals in Serie A so far, Ibrahimovic is likely to steal the spotlight. The Swede, despite his being 38, has added a massive boost in Milan’s offensive armoury and was on target against Lazio last time out.
At the same time, Ronaldo’s influence in the Juventus team is simply incredible. It is also fair to point out that Juventus could have found it difficult had it not been for his scoring form this season. Hence, the Portuguese international’s zest and energy will be crucial as the Italian champions look to oust Milan this midweek.
AC Milan 1-2 Juventus
Despite the quality present in both the sides, this could turn out to be a cagey game as Milan, in particular, look to preserve their excellent record in recent weeks. However, Ronaldo’s influence, combined with Juventus’ overall attacking prowess should be enough to hand them a narrow 2-1 win at San Siro on Tuesday.