The showpiece event of Matchday 23 in Serie A arrives at San Siro on Sunday night as title-chasing AC Milan host in-form top-four hopefuls Juventus.
This historic fixture returns for another imperative iteration this weekend with Milan’s stunning defeat at home to Spezia on Monday meaning Sunday’s bout is a must-win. Come kick-off, the Rossoneri could be five points adrift of Inter Milan, who take on Venezia this weekend, at the top of the table.
Stefano Pioli’s side have certainly been hindered by a mini injury crisis in defence and the commitments of two midfield stars to the African Cup of Nations. Nevertheless, they remain an astutely coached outfit that boasts an electric left-hand side dynamic consisting of Rafael Leão and Theo Hernandez.
Juventus, though, will be confident of extending their unbeaten run in Serie A to nine games. Massimiliano Allegri’s Bianconeri haven’t tasted defeat in the league since the end of November and they recently produced one of their performances of the season against Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia.
Juve’s stellar run of form has kept them in touching distance of Serie A’s top-four and victory on Sunday will be a monster boost to their Champions League hopes.
AC Milan vs Juventus Serie A preview
It’s bound to be a thriller because, well, have you seen Serie A this season? Here’s our preview of Sunday’s blockbuster bout.
How to Watch AC Milan vs Juventus
When is kick-off? Sunday 23 January
What time is kick-off? 19:45 (BST)
Where is it played? San Siro
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport 3 (UK), Paramount+ (US)
Referee? Daniele Orsato
VAR? Marco Di Bello
AC Milan Team News
The hosts will be buoyed by the return of Sandro Tonali in midfield after the impressive Italian missed the Spezia defeat through suspension.
Milan could welcome back Ismael Bennacer to the fold after Algeria were dumped out of the African Cup of Nations, but Franck Kessie remains in Cameroon following the Ivory Coast’s progression into the knockout stages.
In defence, Simon Kjaer and Fikayo Tomori are notable absences, but Alessio Romagnoli is in contention to start after recovering from COVID-19. He’s expected to partner Pierre Kalulu at the back.
Juventus Team News
Danilo returned to action against Sampdoria on Tuesday and the Brazilian is a contender to start on Sunday. However, Juan Cuadrado is more likely to get the nod and the Colombian is projected to start in defence alongside Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini. There are several options for the left-back slot.
In midfield, Arthur Melo remains an option for Max Allegri despite his strong links with an imminent move away. We could see the Brazilian lineup with Manuel Locatelli and Weston McKennie in midfield.
Paulo Dybala is a sure bet to start in attack alongside Alvaro Morata with Federico Bernardeschi available after a minor injury ruled him out of Tuesday’s win.
AC Milan vs Juventus Predicted Lineups
AC Milan: Maignan; Florenzi, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali, Bakayoko; Saelemaekers, Krunic, Leão; Ibrahimovic.
Juventus: Szczesny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Chiellini, De Sciglio; Bernardeschi, Arthur, Locatelli, McKennie; Dybala, Morata.
AC Milan’s Recent Form
AC Milan 1-2 Spezia (17/01) – Serie A
AC Milan 3-1 Genoa (13/01) – Coppa Italia
Venezia 0-3 AC Milan (09/01) – Serie A
AC Milan 3-1 AS Roma (06/01) – Serie A
Empoli 2-4 AC Milan (22/12) – Serie A
Juventus’ Recent Form
Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria (18/01) – Coppa Italia
Juventus 2-0 Udinese (15/01) – Serie A
Inter Milan 2-1 (AET) Juventus (12/01) – Supercoppa Italiana
AS Roma 3-4 Juventus (09/01) – Serie A
Juventus 1-1 Napoli (06/01) – Serie A
While the absence of key stars in midfield and defence leaves Milan vulnerable heading into Sunday’s game, their controversial last-gasp defeat on Monday might spell bad news for Juventus.
The Rossoneri must beat Juve in this one to keep up with their crosstown rivals, who will surely beat Venezia at home on Saturday, at the top of the table and this desperation could spur the hosts to victory. Tactically, they have the potential to overwhelm the visitors through their well-co-ordinated press and I fear the over-caution of Allegri could inhibit the Bianconeri.
A concerted effort will be made to stop the rampaging tandem of Hernandez and Leão down the left, and I suspect this might come at a cost – even if they’re able to slow down the duo. Thus, I envisage Sunday being a frustrating night for Juventini with a desperate and angry Milan claiming all three points.
Prediction: AC Milan 2-1 Juventus