After the shock of a home defeat to modest opposition earlier this week, AC Milan host old rivals Juventus at San Siro, in Serie A’s Sunday evening kickoff.
Separated by seven points and three places in the standings, the Rossoneri are just two points adrift of the summit despite Monday’s setback, while their Bianconeri counterparts have moved to within touching distance of the top four thanks to some improved form.
Though a major refereeing controversy stole the headlines after Milan’s 2-1 loss to Spezia, following an almost invincible run at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza since European football resumed in the summer of 2020, they have now lost three times at home in Serie A alone.
Seeking to avoid suffering back-to-back league defeats at their iconic headquarters for the first time since September 2019, the Rossoneri now continue a freakish schedule of six successive fixtures at San Siro with one of the highest-profile clashes in Calcio.
Sunday’s showdown with an improving Juve will be followed by their ‘away’ game against Inter in the season’s second Derby della Madonnina, before a Coppa Italia quarter-final tie versus Lazio.
Therefore, this could be a definitive period for Stefano Pioli’s team, who have no European engagements to clutter their weeknights, having crashed out of the Champions League by finishing last in their devilishly difficult group.
Milan’s pursuit of a first Scudetto since 2011 had been progressing well until Monday’s defeat – in which the referee blew for a foul for the home side just as Junior Messias fired home what would have been a stoppage-time equaliser – and they had previously overcome Empoli, Roma and Venezia while netting 10 times in the process.
Also through to the last eight of the cup thanks to a 3-1 win over Genoa earlier this month, Pioli will be hoping his side can return to winning ways swiftly against Juventus, who he once represented as a player.
Under his unassuming leadership, Milan have gone unbeaten in three of their last four Serie A meetings with the Old Lady – as many as in the previous 17.
Juventus also made it to the Coppa quarter-finals in midweek, when mercurial striker Paulo Dybala was on target in a 4-1 victory over struggling Sampdoria, and they have been stirring into life in the league following a series of autumn setbacks.
In fact, Juve are undefeated in their last eight Serie A matches, which have featured six wins and two draws – their longest run without a loss in the top flight since late 2020.
Beaten by a last-minute goal from their bitterest rivals in the Supercoppa Italiana just over a week ago, the Bianconeri will now take on Inter’s city rivals having otherwise excelled since the turn of the year.
A hard-fought draw with Napoli was followed by the frantic finale in a 4-3 comeback win against Roma, and Max Allegri’s men most recently saw off Udinese 2-0 at the Allianz Stadium, with Dybala on target once again.
Remarkably, before returning to the second city on Sunday, Allegri has won 11 and drawn the other four meetings with his latest successor in the Milan hotseat, having established a prolonged period of dominance over Pioli in Serie A.
While speculation persists over the future of Dybala, Alvaro Morata and several others amid cost-cutting measures at the Turin club, Allegri will aim to continue his rebuild since taking charge of Juventus for a second time. Undoubtedly, an away win over his old employers would certainly help keep momentum building behind the Old Lady.
AC Milan Serie A form:
AC Milan form (all competitions):
Juventus Serie A form:
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We say: AC Milan 2-2 Juventus
Following the 1-1 draw in September, Milan and Juventus are in line to draw both meetings in a Serie A campaign for the first time since the 1991-92 season.
In fact, the two giants of Calcio have not drawn any of their last nine league encounters at San Siro, but with both sides recently improving in the final third, a close-fought affair could have several twists and turns as it reaches its climax.