After a long absence due to the Coronavirus pandemic football is back, as AC Milan travel north to Turin for Friday’s Coppa Italia semi-final return leg.
With the first leg having finished 1-1 at San Siro over three months ago, the Rossoneri know they face the difficult task of having to score an away goal at the Allianz Stadium to try and reach a third final since 2016.
Milan will be without a number of key performers due to suspension too, but the wild card factor means that there could still be a fantastic spectacle under the Friday night lights in Piedmont.
Game date: Friday 12 June
Kick-off time: 21:00 (CET)
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Referee: Daniele Orsato
The Rossoneri head into the game with Theo Hernandez, Samu Castillejo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all suspended and Leo Duarte injured again.
According to the latest from Sky Italia (via MilanLive), head coach Stefano Pioli is likely to play a 4-3-2-1 formation starting with a back line of Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal plus Andrea Conti, Simon Kjaer, Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria from right to left.
In midfield Ismael Bennacer will be the central pivot, supported by Franck Kessie and Giacomo Bonaventura as mezzalas. Lucas Paquetà and Hakan Calhanoglu will support Ante Rebic in attack, with Rafael Leao on the bench.
This of course raises question marks about Rafael Leao’s position in the hierarchy, with the Portguese starlet set to miss out again despite Ibra’s absence.
Milan (4-3-2-1): G. Donnarumma; Conti, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Calabria; Kessie, Bennacer, Bonaventura; Paquetà, Calhanoglu, Rebic.
Reports from various media outlets are suggesting that Juventus have just one injury to contend with ahead of Friday’s clash as striker Gonzalo Higuaín strained a muscle in training and is a major doubt.
Other than that, Maurizio Sarri has a clean bill of health with centre-back Merih Demiral even returning to full training after recovering from ligament damage.
Sarri is expected to respond with a 4-3-3. Gianluigi Buffon will get the nod in goal with Cuadrado, De Ligt, Bonucc and Alex Sandro to protect him. In the midfield there will be Sami Khedira, Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi.
The front three strikes fear: Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo will be used against a makeshift Rossoneri back line.
Juventus (4-3-3): Buffon; Cuadrado (Danilo), De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Bentancur (Pjanic), Matuidi; Douglas Costa, Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo.
HEAD TO HEAD
We wish that we could skip this section, because it makes for grim reading. For starters there is the fact that the Rossoneri have failed to beat the Bianconeri in the last 10 games in all competitions, and have never won at the Allianz Stadium.
Milan have managed the odd upset here and there, most notably the Supercoppa win in 2016 – a season that also saw the Rossoneri triumph 1-0 at San Siro thanks to a rocket from Manuel Locatelli.
Earlier this season, Pioli’s men put in a good performance in Turin dominating the fixture for large parts, but Paulo Dybala eventually secured the three points with a piece of individual brilliance.
⏳ Juventus are unbeaten at home against #ACMilan in the Coppa Italia since 1985, with three wins for the Bianconeri and three draws.
— MilanData📊 (@acmilandata) June 8, 2020
- Juventus have won their last 7 home matches against AC Milan in all competitions.
- Juventus are unbeaten at home against Milan in the Coppa Italia since 1985, with three wins for the Bianconeri and three draws.
- Juventus have been drawing at half time and winning at full time in 5 of their last 6 home matches against AC Milan in all competitions.
- Juventus are undefeated in 10 of their last 11 Coppa Italia matches.
ONES TO WATCH
This section is normally a lot easier to complete, however the three-month pause due to the Coronavirus pandemic means there is no such thing as form anymore really.
For Milan the hopes essentially rest upon whether Rebic can continue the hot streak he had going, as the Croatia international had netted seven times in all competitions (including in the first leg against Juve) before the break.
However it will also be a big chance for Lucas Paqueta presuming he gets the nod in midfield. La Gazzetta dello Sport (via MilanNews) recently reported that the Brazilian was the star of the show on Saturday as Pioli set up a first XI vs. reserves friendly at Milanello. Paqueta scored a brace and was apparently full of energy.
For Juventus, there is no question that Cristiano Ronaldo is the main threat in their team, and there is unlikely to be a player on the planet who is less affected by the break such is the mentality of the Portuguese star.
However, there is no doubting too that Paulo Dybala is Milan’s kryptonite. The Argentine has netted 12 times in 17 games against the Diavolo in all competitions across his spells with Palermo and Juve, making Milan his favourite opponent.
This is a real head vs. heart battle, where the heart says that Milan could fight really hard like they usually do at the Allianz Stadium and take it right to the end, perhaps even scoring a goal to arouse some nerves.
However the head says that the suspensions will be too much to cope with as will Juve’s front three, and an early goal could knock the wind out of Milan’s sails, but we hope to be wrong on that.
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Milan