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Match Preview: AC Milan vs Juventus

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The champions are in town and AC Milan needs to properly greet their guests.

Juventus v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Juventus FC has shown their title-winning pedigree since the restart. Cristiano Ronaldo, Rodrigo Bentancur, Paulo Dybala, and Matthijs de Ligt have all hit their stride and helped Juventus pull away from their title contenders. In match week thirty-one, the Bianconeri face AC Milan, who just defeated their title rivals. This match could either help Juventus march on to the scudetto or restart the race for the title.

The Typical Juventus FC Formation and Tactics

Maurizio Sarri lines his men in a hybrid 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2. Bentancur and Miralem Pjanić have been playing centrally, with a rotating cast of Blaise Matuidi, Adrien Rabiot, and Aaron Ramsey. Bentancur will duel across the field and help shut down opposition midfielders. He is by far their most dangerous midfielder. The future FC Barcelona midfielder, Pjanić, will spray passes across the field. Two years ago, he was one of the most dangerous midfielders on the planet. Now, he plays in a supportive role for Bentancur. The third midfielder’s role depends on who is playing. Rabiot will drive play and play as a more all-round midfielder. Matuidi will play in a more defensive role, but he is able to join the attack as well. Ramsey is the most attacking of the three and has played almost like an attacking midfielder for Juventus. All three bring a different flair, all are not to be underestimated. In a 4-3-3, the extra midfielder plays on the left of the trio. In a 4-4-2, the extra midfielder plays left midfield.

When Juventus plays in a 4-4-2, typically, Federico Bernardeschi plays wide and on the right side. He has the freedom to cut inside or lead the line. Douglas Costa will mainly play as a right-winger and his flicks and tricks will allow him to break into the box. Both players have a tendency to invert but play in support of Juventus’ two key attackers. Ronaldo and Dybala are the star pairing for the Bianconeri. They both have split time at center forward and both are freer to move around the field as they please. Sometimes their tendencies directly lead to fantastic play, sometimes it does not. However, both players are unbelievable and incredibly dangerous.

Defensively, Juventus plays in a back four that is expansive. Juan Cuadrado has the freedom to attack down the entire right flank but maintains his defensive positioning. The left-back role has become more complimentary since Alex Sandro’s injury, however, Danilo, or whoever plays in that position, will still help drive play. The center backs for Juventus have a role in ball movement. Leonardo Bonucci is a fantastic passer. He can break down an opposing team through his passing. It is a rare quality to have from a center back, and one that Sarri maximizes. Sometimes, the Italian International can break down a team by himself. de Ligt has shown his absolutely meteoric potential this season. He has defended fantastically, progressed play well, and has shown his toughness (especially against Atalanta B.C.). This quartet of players will be hard to break through and all have a duality to their game that makes them difficult to contain. Juventus are tough.

How the Numbers Talk About Juventus

The Bianconeri do not pop from a numbers standpoint. They are in fourth by total xG in Italy, however, this is not the entire story. What Juventus does is create dangerous build-up that can struggle to create shots. The team still shoots, but unlike Atalanta, they do not always generate shots from their build-up. As a team, they can miss crosses or not see out movement that can lead to actual shots. However, Juventus are still incredibly dangerous. Do not expect them to entirely fail to create shots. They do have the second most shots per ninety minutes in Italy, behind Atalanta. Gianluigi Donnarumma will have to earn his game check.

Ronaldo has been unbelievable since the restart. He has a goal in each of his four games and has another two assists. To this point in the season, he has 25 goals and 4 assists in 26 games. The last game he did not have a goal contribution during a game in the league was against Milan in November. You can, and should, expect Ronaldo to score in the upcoming fixture.

Thoughts On The Match

This is a tough fixture. Milan needs to pick up one more point in the next two games to keep a firm grasp on their Europa League place. Winning the midfield battle is key in the match. Losing the midfield will mean that Milan will lose. Juventus will be without Dybala and de Ligt which is a major positive for Milan. Not needing to focus on those two players will give the backline and the forwards more freedom to support the midfield. Ronaldo will still be entirely problematic, but he could be controlled without the worry of Dybala hurting you instead. It will be a long and difficult match, but Milan could continue to show their newfound form against Juventus.