Three key battles that can affect Juventus’ home game against AC Milan
Sportsbet.io discusses the player battles which will do the talking in Juventus' hosting of AC Milan in the Serie A.
As the battle of supremacy at the summit of the Serie A heats up, Juventus – after sealing the last-16 berth of the UEFA Champions League - turn their attention towards a visit of AC Milan, scheduled on Sunday at the Allianz Stadium.
The Bianconeri are undefeated in the league, winning nine games so far of which five wins have come at the Allianz Stadium. Juventus enjoy a 26-game unbeaten run at home and start as odds-on favourites in the contest.
As far as the head to headcount goes, Juventus are undefeated in their last eight meetings in all competitions against the Rossoneri. They, in fact, have scored at least twice in seven of those eight victories.
Inconsistency and changes at the helm have bitten Milan’s destiny to the core. And that coupled with their 14.8%-win ratio in Turin further makes their travel all the more difficult.
That said, here we look at the top three key battles that are expected to make an impact in the game.
LEONARDO BONUCCI vs KRZYSZTOF PIATEK
Bonucci has featured heavily in the Serie A this season, although managing to register just three clean sheets from 11 games. Matthijs de Ligt is deemed doubtful for the latest fixture hence the Italian centre-back will square off against Milan’s top scorer, Krzysztof Piatek.
The Poland international has scored three goals so far and is the driving force for Milan this season. Piatek averages 2.7 shots per game, and he needs to be at his very best to spell doom for Bonucci, who has registered 2.1 clearances, 0.7 interceptions and 0.8 blocks per game.
JUAN CUADRADO vs HAKAN CALHANOGLU
Juan Cuadrado has been an ever-present personal for Juventus, having played at as many as three different positions. Against Milan, expect the Colombian to come up against Rossoneri’s most creative outlet, Hakan Calhanoglu.
The Turkey international not only averages more shots per game than Piatek but also plays 1.4 key passes per game. His ability to attract fouls will come in handy for Milan to get as many set-pieces given that Cuadrado puts in 2.2 tackles per game.
CRISTIANO RONALDO vs ALESSIO ROMAGNOLI
Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the injury-time winner in Juventus’ 2-1 win over Genoa last month, has played 810 minutes in the league this term scoring five times. The Portuguese captain, who lipped off the recent Champions League game with a slight muscle injury, is tipped to start against AC Milan and wreak havoc upon the Rossoneri.
Alessio Romagnoli has been Milan's standout performer in the defence, with impressive stats of 1.2 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and a whopping 5.3 clearances per game. Manager Stefano Pioli will pin his hopes on the 24-year-old Italian to effectively shut down any possible threat from the mercurial Ronaldo.
Words: Swapnil Bhopatkar