stats22 January 2022

AC MILAN v JUVENTUS: DUELS

From Leão v Dybala to Hernández v Cuadrado, but that's not all...

AC Milan v Juventus always offers guaranteed entertainment. This highly anticipated clash at San Siro doesn’t need much introduction. Although the game itself is tomorrow, today we analyse some of the most potentially fascinating on-field duels. Rivals, nemeses, opponents: the Rossoneri and Bianconeri, as always, will fight hard for a victory that could be decided by the following head-to-heads:

RAFAEL LEÃO v PAOLO DYBALA
Two in-form men and hugely talented attacking players. They will take up different roles tomorrow: Leão will play out wide and will look to deploy his pace to devastating effect; Dybala, meanwhile, will play more centrally and is formidable in tight spaces. However, their main objectives will be the same: to affect and influence the game. The Portuguese man has been involved in goals in each of his last four appearances in all competitions (contributing three goals and two assists) and has had goal involvements in each of his two league matches against Juve at San Siro (a goal in July 2020, an assist in January 2021). Not only that, Rafa has had more successful dribbles than anyone else in Serie A this season (50 from a total of 78 attempts). Having found the net against Roma, Udinese and Sampdoria (the latter in the Coppa Italia), the Argentine is enjoying a positive goalscoring run. He’s been involved in twelve league goals against AC Milan in the past (seven goals, five assists), although he’s never netted for the Bianconeri against the Diavolo at San Siro. Both are leading the way in their respective teams in terms of shots on and off target, and we can expect high-quality pieces of play from both of them.

THEO HERNÀNDEZ v JUAN CUADRADO
Probably the strongest full-backs in the division, certainly one of the most fascinating battles of this match. And they will find themselves directly up against one another a lot, Hernández on the left and Cuadrado on the right. Every blade of grass will be covered on that side of the pitch, in what will likely be a high-speed and high-quality affair. Both players share a statistic: only Faraoni (eleven) has more assists than the Frenchman and the Colombian (ten apiece) among Serie A defenders since the start of last season. Both could tip the balance, including in defence. Given that he’s one booking away from suspension, Theo will have to be careful with the Derby in mind. Hernández is impressing again despite his missed penalty against Spezia, and he is also AC Milan’s most fouled player (37). Cuadrado has already scored four goals during the current campaign, as many as his previous two combined, but who will get the better of their opponent?

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIĆ v ALVARO MORATA
These two will look to lead the lines, battle hard and be ready to add the finishing touch. Both players are very different in terms of their attributes and the interpretation of their roles: Ibrahimović has more experience and power, Morata brings more of a fresh dynamism to Juve’s play. In any case, they both contribute significantly to their respective teams’ games. A former Juve player, the Swede has already scored against the Old Lady on two occasions for AC Milan, with both of these goals coming at San Siro (in October 2010 and July 2020). However, he hasn’t found the net on home turf since the middle of September. Should he do so tomorrow, he would become the oldest player to have scored against Juve in Serie A (40 years and 112 days on Sunday) and draw level with Riva, Mancini and Filippo Inzaghi in 21st place (all on 156 goals) in the all-time goalscoring charts in Serie A. Morata has contributed to four goals in five Serie A encounters against AC Milan (two goals, two assists). In his first game against the Rossoneri, he scored and provided an assist (February 2015, a 3-1 Juve win in Turin).

SANDRO TONALI v MANUEL LOCATELLI
Two young Italians ready to dictate play in the middle of the park. Tonali will return to the heart of the AC Milan line-up following his suspension, now rested and energised. In the first league encounter between these two teams, he provided an assist for the equaliser, delivering a precise corner that Rebić headed in to earn the Rossoneri a 1-1 draw. It was one of his first immaculate performances of the season, while the next will serve to reaffirm his position in the team. Sandro leads the Rossoneri ranks for passes in the attacking half (423), crosses (70) but also for most fouls committed (24) and yellow cards (five). Locatelli also battles hard in the middle; he leads the Bianconeri in terms of fouls (30) and blocked shots (16). A former AC Milan player, Manuel made his Serie A debut against Juve while he was on the Rossoneri’s books in 2016. He scored an extraordinary winning goal at San Siro that day with a missile into the top corner.


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