Zlatan Ibrahimovic/Olivier Giroud vs Matthijs de Ligt & Giorgio Chiellini
We could see a proper vintage battle ensue on Sunday night. It’s one that all the potential participants will love. At centre-back, Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini are expected to start while Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Olivier Giroud will line up up top for Milan.
Both strikers pose a similar threat for the Juventus backline.
Giroud and Ibrahimovic serve as the focal point in this Milan side. They’re both adept linkers of play, especially the former, while they give the Rossoneri a direct route to bypass opponent pressure. However, the Bianconeri’s likely ploy of blocking space in their 4-4-2 mid-block means their physical presence won’t be required to offer Milan some respite from a fierce press.
Instead, much of this duel will take place in and around the Juventus box. Both De Ligt and Chiellini are masterful box defenders and both will be happy to take on man-marking responsibilities of the Milan frontman. On his previous start, Chiellini produced a masterclass as Juventus defended deep in the Supercoppa, while De Ligt has shown off his prominence as a man-marker time and time again this season – most notably against Dusan Vlahovic.
Both defenders will relish the challenge and, as was the case over the English Channel in the summer of 1940, the aerial battle will be key. While Milan aren’t reliant on crosses as a source of chance creation, the depth of Juve’s suspected block might force them into such a ploy. They have talented technicians down both flanks and, of course, notable aerial threats in the box in Giroud and Ibrahimovic.
The former has won 55.4% of his aerial duels this season, while the latter has won 68.8%. On the other side, De Ligt has won the eighth-most aerial duels in Serie A (63) at an impressive success rate of 67%. Chiellini, meanwhile, has won over 68% of his 44 duels in the air.