Milan improved their position in the standings thanks to their win against Benevento, now in fourth place, but the battle for a Champions League spot is far from over with four games to go.
It was about time that Stefano Pioli’s men got a win after the losses against Sassuolo and Lazio, which took them out of the top four. They are currently level with Atalanta and Juventus on points, but behind both on goal difference.
In his pre-match press conference for the clash with Juventus, Pioli spoke about the struggles at home and made it clear that they want to change this. He also discussed the solutions he has in mind attacking-wise, with Ibrahimovic out for this clash.
Game date: Sunday, 9 May
Kick-off time: 20:45 (CEST)
Venue: San Siro
Referee: Paolo Valeri (VAR: Gianpaolo Calvarese)
It’s been said so many times before, but Milan haven’t had it easy with injuries this year. Fortunately, though which begs some questions based on recent results, the situation has been a whole lot better in the last month or so.
Antonio Donnarumma and Daniel Maldini are the only ones on the injury list, i.e. two players that wouldn’t have played anyway. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was back last time out and it’s a big boost for Milan that he’s remained healthy this week.
Davide Calabria and Simon Kjaer both suffered from the flu last week and although they were included in the squad, only the former got a few minutes. They should play from the first minute on Sunday, though, which is nice for Pioli.
As per the latest reports, there will be three changes to the lineup that took the field against Benevento. The first two have already been mentioned and the third will take place further up the pitch.
Ismael Bennacer has been far from impressive lately and his starting spot has been questioned, as Milan have Sandro Tonali on the bench. However, it seems the Algerian will get yet another chance from start alongside Franck Kessie.
Another player that has been underwhelming lately is Rafael Leao, who looks set to lose his spot on the left-flank not to Ante Rebic, but to Brahim Diaz. The Spaniard will play behind Ibrahimovic, with Hakan Calhanoglu moving out to the left.
Probable Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessie; Saelemaekers, Diaz, Calhanoglu; Ibrahimovic.
Juventus’ season has been special to say the lead, with former Milan man Andrea Pirlo leading the team. They have been unable to replicate their quality of the last few years, with Champions League hanging in the balance for them as well.
It’s something you would expect with Milan, perhaps, but not with the Bianconeri although the decision to hire Pirlo was questioned from the start. They are currently in third place, level on points with Atalanta and Milan, highlighting the importance of the game.
In the last five games, they have managed three wins, one draw and one loss which isn’t terrible on paper. However, the draw came against a weak Fiorentina side and they couldn’t put anything past Atalanta.
The loss against Benevento at the end of March, at Allianz Stadium, is a good demonstration of Juve’s season as those games are must-wins. They may not have conceded many goals (the least after Inter), but they have still struggled.
Pirlo will also have a full squad tomorrow and in other words, there are no excuses for the teams and the tactics will decide it all. Expected to play with four at the back, there are some doubts regarding the selections for the XI.
Giorgio Chiellini is currently ahead of Leonardo Bonucci, while a switch to a three-man backline is still possible as Weston McKennie would then replace Alex Sandro. Cristiano Ronaldo, of course, will start up front for the Bianconeri.
Probable Juventus XI (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Cuadrado, Bentancur, Rabiot, Chiesa; Morata, Ronaldo.
Head to head
Milan need all the points they can get from the remaining games and they will surely be out for some revenge. The stats, however, aren’t exactly in the Rossoneri’s favour when it comes to playing at the Allianz Stadium.
They did manage a 0-0 draw in the Coppa Italia at the stadium with ten men (lost on away goal), but that was a long time ago and their form is far from the same. On the other hand, you could say that about Juventus as well.
In the reverse fixture, the Rossoneri really paid for all of their injuries as Juventus secured a 3-1 win in the end. Federico Chiesa gave the away side the lead but Davide Calabria responded with a great strike, playing in a midfield role that game.
It wasn’t enough for Milan as Chiesa struck once more and McKennie sealed the deal with around ten minutes to go. With so many key players out for that game, though, the result wasn’t exactly a surprise.
Hopefully, the story will be a bit different on Sunday as Milan are the best away side in the league. They may not have had huge success at San Siro, but on the road they have impressed us all.
Match facts (via LegaSerieA):
➤ Juventus have won 15 Serie A TIM meetings against AC Milan since 2011/12 (D1 L3), against no other side have they won more in this period (15 wins also against Lazio and Udinese, but with one more game played).
➤ Juventus have won each of their last nine Serie A TIM home matches against AC Milan; only against Foggia (11) are they enjoying a longer current winning run at home in the competition.
➤ Juventus have conceded in each of their last 10 Serie A TIM games, their worst run without a clean sheet since April 2010 (19) – the last reigning champion to have a longer such run was Inter back in 2011 (12).
➤ Juventus have scored at least two goals in 13 Serie A TIM home matches this season, more than any other side.
➤ AC Milan have gained at least 69 points in a single Serie A TIM campaign for the first time since 2012/13 (72 – at the end of the season) – in 2012/13, they had 65 points after 35 games.
➤ AC Milan lost their last away league game and could fail to win in two such matches in a row for the first time since February 2020, in their last two before the lockdown.
➤ This is the first time in the three points for a win era that there is only two points separating the team in second and the side in fifth after 34 games played.
➤ No side have gained more points from trailing situations than Juventus in Serie A TIM this season (17), on the other hand AC Milan have lost the fewest once taking the lead in the games (five).
➤ Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more than one goal on nine occasions in Serie A TIM this season: the Juventus striker last registered more in a single season in 2014/15 (12), while Erling Haaland (10) is the only to have done so more often this term in the Top-5 European Leagues.
➤ Theo Hernández is the first AC Milan defender to have scored 5+ goals and delivered 5+ assists in a single Serie A TIM campaign since 2004/05 (when started Opta collecting this data) – he has been involved in 19 total goals in the competition (11 goals, 8 assists), overtaking Ignazio Abate (18) as the AC Milan defender with the most goal involvements in this period.
Ones to watch
Ibrahimovic missed a few good chances against Benevento and he will be looking for some revenge on Sunday, and such a big game will only fuel him. His presence is undeniably important for the Rossoneri, given just how good he is.
In addition to the Swede, it will be nice to see Calabria from start as he has been one of the best players in the squad this season. He got the goal in the reverse fixture and although he won’t be in the same role, he will surely be involved when going forward.
He will have the job of keeping Chiesa at bay as well, it seems, and the former Fiorentina man could cause some trouble if the reverse fixture is any indication of his qualities. Hopefully, he won’t score this time out.
As for Juventus, Ronaldo got a brace last time out and is most likely inspired to get more this weekend. But above all, as already alluded to, it will be important for Milan to shut down his service, i.e. Cuadrado and Chiesa.
The Colombian has been the source of creativity for Juventus all season as he often uses his pace and delivery to trouble the opponents. And Chiesa, as said, got the brace in the reverse fixture.
Seeing as both sides have struggled a bit lately, it’s a very tough game to predict although Juventus are the favourites to get a good result. Milan haven’t registered a single point at Allianz Stadium, which says a lot.
Therefore, while the heart says a draw or a win for Milan, the Bianconeri will most likely collect the three points tomorrow although it should be a close affair.
Prediction: Juventus 1-0 AC Milan