AC Milan will look to regain ground in the race for the Scudetto in the standout Serie A game this weekend against Juventus.

Italian giants AC Milan were subjected to a shock loss to Spezia last weekend, which caused a serious dent in their Serie A title charge. The loss coupled with results elsewhere saw arch-rivals Inter Milan handed the initiative in the race for the Scudetto.

Stefano Pioli’s men will be keen to get their season back on track when they welcome Juventus to the San Siro on Sunday. Massimiliano Allegri’s men have flattered to deceive this season but continue to rack up the results. The Bianconeri boss enjoyed an excellent spell with Milan before moving to Juventus, and it remains to be seen how he will fare on his return.

The Old Lady are just a point off Atalanta in the fourth spot but have played more games. They cannot afford to lose any more ground as they seek to secure maximum points against the Rossoneri. The tie, in a nutshell, can be seen as a game between two of Italian football’s fallen giants as they look to work their way back to the top of the table.

With the international break coming up, both sides will be keen to secure a win. A victory for Juventus will see them gain an advantage in the race for the top four and close the gap to Milan in the second spot.

San Siro is not the fortress it once was, and Milan have already lost thrice at home in the league so far. With European football no more on the schedule this season, Pioli’s side will have to concentrate their efforts on the domestic scene.

The Rossoneri are set for a key run of games. The Milan derby will follow the international break before Pioli’s men welcome Lazio in their Coppa Italia quarter-final. The upcoming three weeks could very well lay the foundation for what Pioli and his team could achieve this season. Starting with a win against Juventus will give them the impetus to go on a good run of results.

The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up on the night and the tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Pioli has a woeful record against Allegri and is yet to beat the Juventus manager. That unfortunate run has now extended to 15 games, and it remains to be seen if he can break the duck this Sunday.

However, the Milan boss will have to contend with absentees in the squad. Centre-back pair Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori are injured, while Franck Kessie and Fode Ballo-Toure are at the Africa Cup of Nations. Pietro Pellegri also remains on the sidelines and is injured.

It is thankfully not all bad news, as Alessio Romagnoli, Davide Calabria, and Ismael Bennacer are all back available. Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali has also returned from suspension and is available to feature on the night. Milan has a strong pool of players to choose from despite the absentees.

The hosts looks set to feature in their trademark 4-2-3-1 system that has worked wonders for them under Pioli. Mike Maignan is a sure starter in goal and will feature behind the back four of Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Alessio Romagnoli and Theo Hernandez.

With Kessie out, Tonali will be the key cog in midfield. He will form the double pivot alongside Rade Krunic. The latter has struggled to impress and will need to put in a solid performance on the night. With Kessie unavailable, this is his chance to impress.

Alexis Saelemaekers started against Spezia last time around but is likely to make way for Junior Messias on the right-wing. Spaniard Brahim Diaz will occupy the central attacking midfield role with the impressive Rafael Leao looking to make a difference on the left. Former Juventus ace Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to start up front. The Swede could become the oldest player to score against the Bianconeri should he find the net on the night.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali, Krunic; Messias, Diaz, Leao; Ibrahimovic

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Juventus

Allegri’s men arrive at the San Siro amid an eight-game unbeaten run in the league. This run of results has seen them close the gap to Milan to just seven points. While it will take a miracle for them to make a play for the Scudetto, a top-four finish could still be on the cards. A win at the San Siro will go a long way towards them attaining just that.

The Old Lady will be without Leonardo Bonucci and Aaron Ramsey for the game but have an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from. Juventus were impressive in their win over Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia midweek and will bring back some of their big guns against Milan.

Wojciech Szczesny will return to the lineup and feature behind the back four of Mattia De Sciglio, Matthijs de Ligt, Giorgio Chiellini and Luca Pellegrini. Manuel Locatelli and Rodrigo Bentancur will form the midfield pairing in the middle of the park. They will provide the base for Juan Cuadrado and Weston McKennie to impress on the wings.

Paulo Dybala is in good form and will return to the lineup after starting on the bench against Sampdoria. The 28-year-old is likely to be the conduit between the attack and the midfield and could be the difference-maker for the visitors on the night. Meanwhile, Alvaro Morata is likely to keep his spot upfront.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; De Sciglio, De Ligt, Chiellini, Pellegrini; Locatelli, Bentancur; Cuadrado, Dybala, McKennie; Morata.

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Key Stats

  • Both sides have met each other 173 times in Serie A. Milan have won 51 times while Juventus have come out on top in 67 matches.
  • Juventus have lost the most Serie A games against AC Milan in the league’s history.
  • Juventus hold the upper hand when it comes to recent meetings. They have won 14 of the last 20 games, losing just four. Milan, however, are unbeaten in the previous three games.
  • The sides drew 1-1 last September. Securing another draw will see them reach a stalemate in both league games for the first time in Serie A since 1991-92.
  • Another loss on the night will see AC Milan lose consecutive Serie A home games for the first time since September 2019.
  • Massimiliano Allegri has won 11 times and drawn his other four meetings against Stefano Pioli in the Serie A.

Player to Watch

Paulo Dybala

Dybala is Juventus's go to man. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

Dybala is Juventus’s go to man. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

The Argentine sensation was the standout performer for Juventus in their last Serie A game against Udinese. He not only opened the scoring on the night but also appeared to send a message to the club’s board as contract negotiations continue to drag out.

Dybala also came off the bench midweek against Sampdoria and again found the net. He appears to be coming into form at the right moment, and in the absence of Federico Chiesa, the Argentine is the Old Lady’s attacking linchpin. Allegri will need his star man to perform against Milan, and the 28-year-old’s contributions on the night could lay the foundation for how the game turns out.

The Argentine has been directly involved in 12 Serie A goals against AC Milan. Only against Udinese does he have a better return (17).

Prediction

AC Milan 1-1 Juventus

Both teams have been inconsistent this season and have failed to hit top stride for a long stretch. It promises to be a close fought game where the smallest margins could make the difference. Given that both teams are struggling for form, a draw appears to be the likely result.

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