AC Milan are back in Serie A action on Saturday after the international break as they travel to league-leaders Juventus.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side will be looking to build on a dramatic 3-2 victory over Chievo at San Siro last time out and continue their charge towards the European places.
Milan will travel to Turin just five points back of fourth spot and are unbeaten in the league since December 23rd, but face a tough trip to a Juventus side firmly embroiled in a Scudetto race with Napoli.
Just when it seemed that full-back Andrea Conti may be set for a return to competitive action, he suffered another training injury and will now likely be out for the rest of the season.
However, Milan have no other injuries or suspensions to worry about other than Ignazio Abate, who is still sidelined with muscle problems.
Juventus, on the other hand, have five key players likely missing for the weekend clash, with Juan Cuadrado, Federico Bernardeschi, Alex Sandro, Sami Khedira and Giorgio Chiellini all set to miss out.
As a result, Max Allegri could be forced to field a back four of Mattia De Sciglio, Medhi Benatia, Daniele Rugani and Kwadwo Asamoah.
Likely AC Milan XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Calabria, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Andre Silva, Calhanoglu.
Over the last ten rounds in Serie A, only Juventus have picked up more points than the Rossoneri, with the Old Lady having won nine and drawn one (compared to eight wins and two draws for Milan).
That stretch has seen them take over the top spot in the standings from Napoli, with Juve holding a two point lead over the Naples club after 29 rounds.
However, Napoli will have been encouraged by the Bianconeri’s last game, as they could only manage a 0-0 draw away at struggling SPAL, who sit just one point above the drop zone.
LAST TIME OUT
The Diavolo have lost their last three competitive fixtures against Juventus, with the opponent scoring two goals in each. October was the last meeting between the two, with a Gonzalo Higuain brace enough to earn three points for the visitors at San Siro.
Milan have won just 14 of their last 57 fixtures against Juve, losing 24 and drawing 19.
Interestingly, the last time Milan won away at Juventus was back in 2011. The goalscorer that day? Genera Gattuso.
Both wide men – Suso and Calhanoglu – will be key for the Rossoneri as they look to exploit a makeshift back four from Allegri’s side, while it will be interesting to see if Patrick Cutrone does get the nod up front.
That being said, we must not forget that Juve possess one of the deadliest strike forces in Europe, so it will be up to Leonardo Bonucci to impress against his old side alongside Alessio Romagnoli.
For the hosts, Miralem Pjanic’s set pieces will be a constant source of danger, while it appears Mario Mandzukic will be given a chance as Allegri looks to rotate his side ahead of their upcoming Champions League quarter-final.
Quite simply put, this is easily the biggest test that Gattuso has had to endure in his brief tenure with Milan. Getting a result in Turin would affirm his credibility to lead the Rossoneri forward.
Despite their selection problems, Juventus still have a fantastic side, and history shows that this is not a happy hunting ground for the Diavolo. Those who are optimistic should also be cautious.
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Milan