22.10.2016 12:30 - in: Serie A S

      #MilanJuve: key names and numbers

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      Consecutive win records, recent Bianconeri dominance and red-hot strikers; everything you need to know about tonight’s tussle in Milan
      History in the offing…again

      April’s last encounter between the two most decorated clubs in Italian football, as you might expect, had more than a touch of history about it.

      Goals from Mario Mandzukic and Paul Pogba took Juventus a huge step closer to retaining their Serie A title for the fourth consecutive season while Gianluigi Buffon, in typical fashion, produced one of the saves of the year, to claw away Mario Balotelli’s free-kick which was destined for the bottom corner.

      Most importantly however, the 2-1 scoreline that night saw the Bianconeri pick up a seventh successive victory against their old rivals, setting a new record winning streak in this historic fixture. This time around, Massimiliano Allegri’s men will have the chance to go one better; a win in Milan tonight would be their fourth in a row at the San Siro, also a feat never before seen.

      Milan and Juventus have crossed paths 163 times in the top flight and, since April 2013, there has only been one winner. With the Rossoneri firmly in the chasing pack on 16 points, their second highest tally by this stage of the last 10 campaigns, an eighth success for Massimiliano Allegri’s men could be the sweetest of the lot.

      Key men

      With Paulo Dybala, three goals in his last two league games, and Gonzalo Higuain, four in six, set to partner up once more this evening, Allegri’s side can rely on the services of two of the most prolific forwards of the past 12 months in Milan, both in rich scoring form.

      Dybala’s clinical opener at Empoli just under three weeks ago, followed by a dead-ball brace on home turf against Udinese ended a run of five matches without success for the Argentine who appears to be back to his very best, just in time for a crucial spell in the champions’ season.

      Don’t be surprised to see ‘La Joya’ net again today; Juve’s number 21 has scored in all three of his career appearances against Milan, twice for Palermo and once last term at Juventus Stadium.

      The race for first goalscorer won’t be as straightforward as it sounds however; fellow South American strikers Higuain (70) and Carlos Bacca (90.5) currently make up two of the division’s top three for their respective minutes per goal ratios.

      Bacca, with seven strikes to his name from the last six home matches, is likely to be partnered by Mbaye Niang, who has failed to score or assist just twice in his previous seven outings. Beside that pair, no other Milan player has found the net more than once so far.

      Although the intrigue of the two goalkeeping Gianluigis (Buffon and Donnarumma) will provide an intriguing sub-plot, tonight could well be all about which of the game’s four in-form strikers will find the net first.

      Team news

      As revealed by coach Allegri in yesterday’s press conference, of all the players recovering from injury, Mario Mandzukic is the only one who might feature.

      Giorgio Chiellini is on the cusp of a return, but won’t be ready until at least Wednesday for the visit of Sampdoria while Claudio Marchisio makes his second matchday squad in a row having appeared  for an hour in Wednesday’s friendly against Fossano.

      Seven of Juventus’ XI were confirmed by the Tuscan in Vinovo; Buffon, Medhi Benatia, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Patrice Evra, Dybala and Higuain.

      Milan meanwhile will go into tonight’s meeting with just one certain absentee, captain Riccardo Montolivo is set to be out for up to six months after knee surgery at the start of this month. Youngster Manuel Locatelli, scorer of a dramatic late winner against Sassuolo on debut, is likely to step in once more. 

      Buffon, Buffon, Buffon

      After a show-stopping mid-week in Lyon, it would be wrong to finish on anything other than the Juve captain.

      Tonight’s will be Buffon’s 597th Serie A appearance and in that time, no player from either team has emerged victorious more times in this fixture than the skipper whose 11 triumphs comfortably trump those of Milan’s frontrunner Gennaro Gattuso (seven). 

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