The four key battles that could win or lose the game for Milan vs. Juventus

By Oliver Fisher -

Italian football’s two most decorated clubs will renew hostilities tonight at Serie A’s most iconic stadium as AC Milan host Juventus.

Stefano Pioli’s men lost their game against Spezia on Monday in controversial circumstances as Marco Serra was the centre of a storm for his decision not to let a late Junior Messias goal stand, and with Inter having won last night the pressure is on to respond well. You can read our preview here, and the best pre-match stats here, while below we have picked out some key player battles.

We start with the duel between two of Italian football’s most iconic and stories players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Giorgio Chiellini. They have a combined age of 77 and have over 600 games in Serie A between them, and they will go toe-to-toe again as the Swede looks for his first goal at home since the win over Lazio in September.

Meanwhile, in the midfielder there will be a fascinating contest between Sandro Tonali and Manuel Locatelli. The former is a boyhood Milan fan who joined permanently in the summer and is widely regarded as Italy’s best young midfield prospect, while the latter spent many years with the Rossoneri after coming through the academy but is now in Turin. He of course scored a memorable winner against the Bianconeri back in the 2016-17 season.

The feeling is that while Alessio Romagnoli tends to play as the deepest member of the back four and will try to contain Alvaro Morata’s scoring prowess, it will be the more aggressive and agile Pierre Kalulu that will be tasked with stopping Paulo Dybala. Kalulu needs to respond after a shaky performance against Spezia on Monday night, while Dybala’s future at Juve continues to dominate the headlines but he is delivering on the field, having netted in 4 of his last 6 league appearances.

Finally, the tussle down Milan’s left side involving Theo Hernandez and Juan Cuadrado should also be excellent to watch. The former is one booking away from a suspension and the next game is the derby against Inter, while the Colombia international has the pace and trickery to trouble him but is yet to score against a real top team this season.

READ MORE: Style, strengths, weaknesses and numbers – Analysing if Botman would be a good fit for Milan

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