AC Milan will be keen to strengthen their hold at the top of Serie A when they face Juventus on Sunday.
Serie A leaders AC Milan will welcome arch-rivals Juventus to San Siro in what is the Italian top flight’s biggest game of the weekend post the October international break.
Apart from the thrashing against Inter Milan, Stefano Pioli’s men have been peerless this season in the league and are top of the standings with 21 points from their first eight games.
Juventus are not far behind in third spot, four points off the top. A win on the night will take them to within striking distance of the summit, something that has become an unfamiliar sight for the Turin giants in recent years.
The game will also see Massimilano Allegri return to the club he once managed. The Italian manager has won titles at both Milan and Juventus and is among an elite list of tacticians to achieve that feat.
With Napoli struggling and Inter Milan showing signs of weakness, the clash between Milan and Juventus could be a six-pointer in the race for the Scudetto. Early trends indicate that both sides should be around the top as the season progresses, meaning the opportunity to land a direct rival a blow should not be discounted.
However, Milan will also have an eye on their upcoming trip to face Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League midweek, and it could impact how they rotate players on Sunday. Juventus, on the other hand, have no European football to worry about and can afford to put all their eggs in one basket this season.
Juventus have lost their grip on the Serie A crown in recent years, with Milan among those who capitalised on it. Both teams are currently rebuilding after poor 2022/23 campaigns, and the game will give us a proper idea of where they stand at as far as progress on the field is concerned.
AC Milan go into the clash on the back of a fine run of results that culminated in their hard-fought 1-0 win away to Genoa before the international break. Coming away with all three points on the night displayed their title credentials and showed the grit that is needed to sustain season-long challenges.
Stefano Pioli will need his side to channel the same instincts this Sunday as he tries to grapple with a host of absentees. Mike Maignan and Theo Hernandez are both suspended for the tie and will be missed massively at the back.
With Marco Sportiello also out injured, 40-year-old Antonio Mirante is all set to make his first start for the Rossoneri. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has failed to return in time and will miss out with an injury. Others out injured include Samuel Chukwueze, Perre Kalulu, Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic and Mattia Caldara.
Pioli still has enough in his roster to put out a competitive side capable of challenging Juventus. The 4-3-3 restructure has worked wonders for the home side, and they are likely to retain it on the night.
Mirante will be protected by the back four of Davide Calabria, Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori and Alessandro Florenzi. Yacine Adli should hold the fort in midfield with Yunus Musah and the in-demand Tijjani Reijnders acting as the ball carriers.
Olivier Giroud should be restored to his natural position upfront following his heroics in goal against Genoa. He should be ably supported by Christian Pulisic and Rafael Leao in the attack.