AC Milan head into Saturday night’s home clash against Juventus knowing that a win would be considered amongst the biggest and most significant in recent years.
The Rossoneri welcome the defending champions and current top of the league standings, but they do so having won four out of five games as Vincenzo Montella continues to put his stamp on a talented group.
A 3-1 win in Verona against Chievo demonstrated that Milan are now able to overcome tough starts to games and come away with three points, as evidenced by the wonderful strikes from Juraj Kucka, M’Baye Niang and the deflected shot from Carlos Bacca that sealed the win.
However, Juventus have been in more dominant form domestically this season, winning all but one of their opening eight matches. That being said, the only game they have dropped points in came at San Siro as Inter came from behind to beat the Bianconeri 2-1.
AC Milan are expected to bring striker Carlos Bacca into the starting XI once again, after dropping him against Chievo in favour of Gianluca Lapadula in order to preserve fitness.
Bacca told CorSera: “Do I get angry from staying on bench? It’s hard for me. In my head I always think of playing.”
Milan skipper Riccardo Montolivo is obviously out long term with an ACL injury, while he will be accompanied on the side-lines by Andrea Bertolacci and Luca Antonelli.
Meanwhile, the visitors will have to make do without Giorgio Chiellini, Kwadwo Asamoah, Daniele Rugani, and Mario Mandzukic.
AC Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate, Paletta, Romagnoli, De Sciglio; Kucka, Locatelli, Bonaventura; Suso, Bacca, Niang.
Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Benatia, Bonucci, Barzagli; Dani Alves, Khedira, Hernanes, Pjanic, Alex Sandro; Higuain, Dybala.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Eyes will once again be cast towards Manuel Locatelli, the 18-year-old who has been chosen to fill the gap left in the Regista role by Riccardo Montolivo.
After a slow start against Chievo, Locatelli eased in to the game and became a prominent part of why Milan took the game by the scruff of the neck.
For Juventus, the threats are straightforward. Reigning Capocanoniere winner Gonzalo Higuain will occupy Gabriel Paletta and give him all kinds of issues, while Paulo Dybala will try and beat Alessio Romagnoli.
Also keep an eye on Mehdi Benatia, who is expected to start amongst the Bianconeri back line after being linked to Milan in the summer.
LAST TIME THEY MET
Milan fans will not want to revisit this one, as the last time the sides met was the Coppa Italia final in May when Juventus prevailed.
With the Diavolo having the slight advantage over the first 90 minutes the game headed to extra time, where Alvaro Morata – now of Real Madrid – popped up to score the winner, steal the trophy and crush Milan hearts.
Milan have not beaten Juventus in Serie A action since November 2012, registering seven straight league defeats.
The omens are not good, but it’s time for revenge.