Scudetto hopefuls AC Milan host Champions League-chasing Juventus at San Siro on Sunday night in Serie A’s stand-out fixture of Matchday 23.
The Rossoneri’s controversial defeat against Spezia last time out means their already entering must-win territory in the context of the title race. Inter Milan are expected to extend their lead over their crosstown rivals to five points before Milan kick-off on Sunday.
As for Juve, their impressive form since the start of December has somewhat made up for their historically poor start to the domestic season. The Bianconeri are in touching distance of Serie A’s top-four and victory on Sunday will be a massive boost in their pursuit of playing Champions League football next season.
Juventus’ predicted XI vs AC Milan
Regarding team selection, Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed that he’ll be without Aaron Ramsey and Leonardo Bonucci for the trip to Milan, while Federico Chiesa is a long-term absentee. Federico Bernardeschi is set to return following a small injury problem, while Danilo made his first appearance since November in Tuesday’s comfortable Coppa Italia triumph over Sampdoria.
Reports in the Italian media suggest Juve will line-up in a 4-2-3-1 against Milan on Sunday, and here’s the personnel Allegri could select for the upcoming Serie A fixture.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Wojciech Szczesny (GK) – Szczesny will return to the starting XI after Mattia Perin earned another start in the Coppa Italia on Tuesday.
Juan Cuadrado (RB) – Danilo’s return is a huge boost for Allegri but I can’t envisage the boss deploying the Brazilian from the outset on Sunday, especially considering the threat Milan boast down their left-hand side. Thus, I expect Cuadrado, who opened the scoring on Tuesday, to continue in the side at right-back.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – After missing the Sampdoria clash through suspension, De Ligt is ready and raring to against Milan.
Giorgio Chiellini (CB) – Despite the impressive form of Daniele Rugani since coming into the side, veteran Chiellini is expected to partner De Ligt on Sunday. The wily Italian produced a masterclass against Inter Milan on his last start in the Supercoppa.
Mattia De Sciglio (LB) – With Luca Pellegrini rarely featuring in 2022 and Alex Sandro playing himself out of the side, De Sciglio should get the nod at left-back. The versatile Italian has played his best football from the left this season.
Rodrigo Bentancur (CM) – Arthur Melo has impressed this month despite links with a move away, but I don’t think Allegri trusts him to start on Sunday. The Brazilian’s too flawed from a defensive perspective. Thus, I expect Bentancur to get the nod in the midfield pivot. The Uruguayan was brilliant in the reverse fixture and he was excellent against Udinese last Saturday.
Manuel Locatelli (CM) – The projected absence of Arthur means Locatelli should return to a deeper-lying function on Sunday. The Italian was outstanding in a more advanced role against Sampdoria. But, knowing Allegri, it’s unlikely that he’ll grant Locatelli that sort of freedom from the outset against Milan.
Weston McKennie (RM) – McKennie’s role will be a demanding one. Out of possession, he’ll be forced to track the surges of Theo Hernandez from left-back, but he’ll also be expected to provide a threat in transition and serve as a reference point between the lines when Juventus have possession. The sneaky excellent American is most capable of fulfilling this multi-faceted function out of all the Bianconeri players.
Paulo Dybala (AM) – Allegri described Dybala as “fine” and “calm” in the build-up to Sunday’s game. His physical condition isn’t believed to be an issue and the Argentine is expected to play as the number ten in Juve’s projected 4-2-3-1 at San Siro.
Federico Bernardeschi (LM) – Bernardeschi missed the Sampdoria win due to a minor injury but he’s expected to return to the fold in this one. McKennie’s role means Juve will need a player capable of holding the width down the left and while this isn’t the Italian’s preferred function, he’s proved this season that’ll he perform any role Allegri asks of him.
Alvaro Morata (ST) – Morata should’ve had a hat-trick on Tuesday but unconvincing finishing meant he got on the scoresheet just once, and that was from the penalty spot. Nevertheless, the Spaniard has started 2022 brightly and he should start on Sunday ahead of Moise Kean.