Juventus vs AC Milan: Serie A - Preview and Prediction
One of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures on the Serie A calendar will take place at the Allianz Stadium on Sunday night as leaders Juventus welcome a struggling AC Milan outfit.
The Old Lady top the table with 29 points from their 11 fixtures this season, while Milan have only picked up 13 from the same number of matches, leaving them languishing in the 11th position.
Maurizio Sarri's side has needed to be in impressive form this season to hold off the threat of Inter, and will bring a three-game winning run into tomorrow night's contest in Turin.
Indeed, since being held at Lecce on October 26, Juve have overcome Genoa and Torino in the league, in addition to recording a nervy 2-1 victory at Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Cristiano Ronaldo picked up a knee injury during Juve's Champions League clash with Lokomotiv during the week, but the Portugal international is expected to recover in time for Sunday's match.
Sarri will again be without Giorgio Chiellini though, with Paulo Dybala expected to get the nod in the final third over Gonzalo Higuain, while Aaron Ramsey could keep his spot in an attacking position.
Only Juventus have won more Italian league titles than Milan, but the Rossoneri have not lifted the trophy for quite a long time. The Italian giants managed to claim fifth last season, which was certainly an improvement on their recent positions.
Already on their second manager of the season, Stefano Pioli was appointed last month after Marco Giampaolo was relieved of his duties.
It has been a poor start for the sleeping giants, who have won just four of their 11 matches and suffered six defeats to sit down in 11th position.
Samu Castillejo is a huge doubt due to a muscular problem, while Suso also faces a late fitness test.
Ante Rebic could get the nod in the final third. Rafael Leao and Giacomo Bonaventura are also pushing for positions in the middle of the park, and the latter could get the nod alongside Lucas Paqueta.
Juventus form: WWWDWW
AC Milan form: LWDLWL
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Alessio Romagnoli
The Portuguese maestro had a successful start to his Juve career last year, and will look to make light work of a Rossoneri defence, that has been leaking goals off late.
He is exceptionally good in the air and has always challenged the best of defenders.
Ronaldo has five goals and 6.2 shots per game from nine Serie A matches, and Sarri will most definitely bank on him to come good against Milan.
CR7 will have his task cut out against Milan's trusted defender, Alessio Romagnoli.
The defender has shown brilliant consistency in the past season and has impressive Serie A stats to show in the current season. In 11 matches, he averages 1.4 interceptions and 5.3 clearances.
The big number here is the average clearances, which stands at a whopping 5.3.
Romagnoli's clean tackles, aerial dominance and the ability to clear the ball under high-pressure situations lend extra credence to the comparisons he has drawn with a certain Alessandro Nesta.
Matthijs de Ligt vs Krzysztof Piatek
An exciting mini-battle on the pitch will see Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt locking horns with Krzysztof Piatek .
de Ligt joined Juventus after an incredible stint with Ajax, and has seemlessly shifted into the heart of the Bianconeri's defence.
The young defender enjoys dominating strikers left, right and centre, and is excellent in the air. He registers 4.4 clearances and 0.5 blocks out of the 8 Serie A apperances for the 'Old Lady'.
He will have to contend with AC Milan's prized asset, Krzysztof Piatek.
Piatek is a natural goalscorer. The Polish centre-forward is comfortable finishing with both feet, and his understanding and technique make him a handful for every defender.
Added to that is his aerial quality. His heading ability and strength makes him a constant threat from crosses. The 24-year old's movement and intelligence take his technical ability to another level and makes him such an exciting striker.
The Milan striker has scored three goals and registers 2.7 shots per game from 8 matches.
SCORE PREDICTION: Juventus 2-0 AC Milan