The SerieA has produced one of the most fascinating and topsy-turvy title races this season until now and it promises to be more interesting as the season progresses further. At the halfway stage, as it stands, Inter is leading the pack with 51 points from 22 games with Milan breathing down their neck on 48 points and Napoli just two points further on 46. Nonetheless, it is the most enticing title race this season among Europe’s top five leagues and all watchful eyes are on it. This weekend, another decisive and big match awaits us which would be crucial in this battle for the elusive crown. Second-placed AC Milan is squaring-off against fierce rivals and 36-time reigning champions Juventus at the SanSiro stadium in Milan tonight. It stands as a vital clash for both sides as their future position at the league table depends on it.
AC Milan, the 7-time UCL champions got the season off to a flying start this year. They remained unbeaten in most of the matches and were doing well in other competitions too. But they somehow ridiculously lost the plot and a string of bad results saw them being knocked out from the UCL group stage. They also dropped down to a lowly fourth in the league. It didn’t last long though with the team recovering soon and hitting the pinnacle of their form. Now to keep up the pressure on city rivals Inter, Milan firstly needs to beat Juventus tonight at home.
Juventus, on the other hand, started the season on a disappointing note after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. At a time, they dropped down as low as 10th in the standings. But on a similar note to Milan, they started their revival mode quick enough to stand 5th in the league now. They are through to the UCL round-of-16s too and will now want to seal their place inside the top four. It’s quite an uphill task given the current form of their rival teams but if they remain consistent throughout the remaining part of the season, it can be easily achieved. For the time being, they will have to defeat Milan to remain within touching distance of Atalanta at fourth.
Can Allegri-led Juve avenge their loss to Milan earlier last year or will the Pioli-led dump the Turin giants yet again?
MILAN VS JUVE: AN OLD-AGE RIVALRY
The long withstanding rivalry between the two Italian giants started way back in 1901. It is the oldest clash still played in Italy and is continuing for the last 121 years. In the very first meeting between the two sides, Juventus lost a closely fought battle with Milan by a margin of 2-3. Since then, it is one of the most-watched and most enthralling rivalries in world football. This face-off had it all, from last-minute winners to some brilliant individual performances, we have witnessed everything. From crazy fan fights in the stadiums to some grueling fights at the center of the pitch between players, from Milan dominating European football with 7 UCLs to JUVE taking the honors in domestic football with 36 titles, everywhere you can see a close contest between these age-old clubs of Italy.
So, absolutely people don’t need any reason to watch this beautiful clash unfolding between the most successful clubs of Italy. Though the dominance of Italian teams reduced drastically in European football, this Juve-Milan game has a special place in the hearts of Europeans. No wonder it is gonna live up to the usual expectations of the people again tonight. The match is scheduled to get kicked off at 01:15 IST or 19:45 GMT.
JOURNEY OF THE TWO TEAMS SO FAR
The Old-Ladies are traveling to the SanSiro after cruising to a thumping 4-1 win in the round-of-16s of the Coppa-Italia. The whole Juventus contingent was on song to give the home side a comfortable win. All of Juan Cuadrado, Daniel Rugani, Paulo Dybala, and Alvaro Morata scored to lead the team to victory. Juventus had unbelievable dominancy throughout the game with almost 27 shots taken and 63% possession of the ball. Earlier in the week in SerieA, they defeated Udinese by a margin of 2-0. Paulo Dybala and Weston Mckenzie were among the scorers to gift the home side a convincing win. A little before that, Juve was denied their first silverware of the season by Inter Milan.
The Nerrazzurris defeated the Turin-giants in the finals of Supercoppa Italiana with a last-gasp winner from Alexis Sanchez sealing it. In SerieA, they are unbeaten across the last eight matches winning 6 and drawing three in the process. Now to edge closer towards securing the UCL spot, they need to beat Milan to remain in the comfort zone ahead of international-break.
FORM GUIDE – WWDWW (SERIE A)
DWLWW (ALL COMPETITIONS)
The Rossoneri’s are coming onto this game after suffering a shocking 1-2 loss to Spezia last weekend at the SanSiro. It was a frustrating night for the Milan giants who got off to a 1-0 lead through Rafael Leao. But they squandered the lead quite disgracefully and conceded the equalizer in 64th min. More agony was yet to come as the Red-and-Blacks conceded the winner in the last minute of added time.
It was a heartbreaking loss for them after having full control of the game right from the beginning. Having 61% possession and 26 shots towards the opposition goal isn’t a joke. Still, because of their leaky defense, they had to drop points at home and remain 5 points behind arch-rivals Inter. If Milan’s to compete for the title, they need to increase the creativity of the attack as well as maintain compactness in defense. Their four-game winning streak came to a halt with this loss and they’ll need to be more consistent now to catch up Inter.
FORM GUIDE – WWWWD (ALL COMPETITIONS)
LWWWL ( SERIE A )
HEAD TO HEAD
The oldest rivalry in Italian football has offered u much through its enriching 122-year old history. In the 236 official games between the two sides, Juventus boast a clear advantage with 92 wins. Milan is a little behind with 68 wins while 76 games have ended in a stalemate.
The most recent faceoff at the Juventus stadium saw both sides sharing the spoils. Alvaro Morata gave Juventus the early lead in the 4th minute only to be canceled out by Ante Rebic afterward. Pride will be at stake when the two teams face each other at the SAN SIRO tonight.
The Rossoneri’s have their midfield mainstay Frank Kessie out due to international duty in the Africa Cup of Nations. Fikayo Tomori and Pietro Pellegri are injured at the moment and won’t feature tomorrow. Apart from this, there are no injury concerns in the team as of now.
The Bianconeris will be without the star Italian duo of Federico Chiesa and Leonardo Bonucci who are both sidelined. Both the absentees are long-term injury layoffs. Besides them, Aaron Ramsey, whose exit away from Juventus is rumored, also remains out. No other players are unavailable for selection till now.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
The Argentine superstar is enjoying one of his finest seasons in Turin after the departure of Ronaldo to Manchester. He has contributed in all aspects for the Bianconeris, from playmaking to scoring goals as well as helping the defense occasionally. His 11 goals and 4 assists in 17 starts for Juve are the highest among his teammates. Dybala plays as a floating striker in the team and that makes life difficult for the opposition defenders to mark him. In big matches, Dybala always shows his class and that will be expected from him tomorrow too when he features against Milan.
The newly recruited midfield star from Sassuolo, LOCATELLI, has lived up to the hypes of the fans surrounding him. He has been the engine of their midfield in almost every game for the Black-and-Whites. He controls the midfield with such an amazing passion that it looks so easy for the watchers. From being quite compact defensively to being the architect of building attacks, Locatelli is the fulcrum of the team nowadays. Having 3 goals and 3 assists is decent for a central midfielder. The midfield battle between Locatelli and Tonali could well decide the fate of the game.
The Real Madrid outcast has earned himself a name in Italian top-flight football. He is a swashbuckling form for the Milan giants since last season. His playmaking skills and creativity are invaluable assets for Rossoneri. To be honest, the CAM role suits him the best and that’s why he’s starring in that position. He has already bagged 4 goals and 5 assists in the Red-and-Black jersey this year. His defense-splitting passes and through balls are eye-soothing to watch. To break the compact Juve defense, Brahim’s playmaking skills will be required by Pioli.
Another former Madrid player, Theo Hernandez is on another level this year around. Currently, he is one of the best fullbacks in Europe. His attacking threat is unparalleled in Italy at the moment, and his defensive contribution is also decent. It makes him a complete left-back with all the positional attributes in him. Though being a left-back, he has already racked up 4 goals and 7 assists in 24 appearances. He could potentially exploit the spaces left open by the excess overlapping of Cuadrado tonight. Against Juve, Theo would be hoping to come up again with a sensational show on display.
AN INTERESTING FACEOFF ON THE CARDS
In all respects, this game is heated up well even before the first whistle is blown and it promises to present us with a full entertaining 90 minutes of football. As always, the Juve-Milan have always proved out to be engrossing and charming ones. And when both the sides are in desperate need of a win to cement their places in the league table, it gets spiced up to a great extent. Milan needs a win to maintain the gap with Inter, while Juve needs a win to maintain pace with Atalanta. Expect a fierce encounter to unfold in a cool and captivating evening at the San Siro tonight. Tighten up your seat belts, and get ready to watch an action-packed clash between two of the best sides in Europe!!
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