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Juventus Tunes Up for Real Madrid With AC Milan Serie A Showdown

Juventus will be wary of looking beyond AC Milan to the Champions League quarterfinals with its lead in Serie A sitting at two points.
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The two most successful clubs in Italian football meet for the 226th time when they go head-to-head at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on Saturday. 

This clash is vital for both sides but under different circumstances. The hosts will be looking to extend their two-point lead over second placed Napoli at the top of Serie A, meanwhile, Milan will hope they can close the gap on fourth placed rivals, Inter. 

Juventus' run of 12 straight victories came to an abrupt end when relegation battlers SPAL held them to a 0-0 draw. I Rossoneri won their last game against Chievo thanks to Andre Silva's late heroics. 

Juventus go into the game 15 points ahead of their opponents, but Massimiliano Allegri will know that their league positions won't matter in a game of this magnitude, as it's what happens on the pitch that counts.

I Bianconeri seem to be going from strength to strength this season, having won 14 of their last 16 Serie A games. They are also 24 games unbeaten, with their last defeat coming against Sampdoria back in November. 

The visitors are on an impressive run themselves, going 10 Serie A games unbeaten, winning their last five. However, they may be in for their toughest test of the season when they attempt to go toe-to-toe with a Juve side that haven't conceded a single league goal in 2018.

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Classic Encounter

AC Milan 2-2 Juventus (2000/01)

A sellout crowd of 80,000 witnessed this classic encounter between the two Italian rivals and it didn't fail to live up to expectations. 

The iconic San Siro stadium was filling with smoke and bright red flares before kickoff, and despite the electric atmosphere, this match-up was very much a game of two halves. 

In the first half, both sides were cautious in their play, both waiting for the other to make a mistake. But overall, it was a rather bland first half, with both sides failing to make an impact on the game.

With the game nearing the hour mark, Milan were awarded a free kick in a wide position.

Demetrio Albertini stood over the ball and floated a pinpoint cross onto the head of Massimo Ambrosini. The Rossoneri man lost his marker and headed in at the far post, leaving Edwin Van De Sar with no chance.

Just a minute later, Milan doubled their lead through a more recognized goalscorer in Andriy Shevchenko who headed home from close range. Milan looked like they were cruising until Zinedine Zidane waltzed past the Rossoneri midfield before delivering a perfect cross which was headed in by substitute David Trezeguet.

In injury time, Antonio Conte picked up the ball 25-yards from goal and tried his luck with a powerful effort. His thunderous drive brushed the fingertips of the diving Abbiati and found the corner of the Milan goal, sparking wild and mandatory Conte celebrations.

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Key Battle

Paulo Dybala vs Leonardo Bonucci

These two players will know each other after training together for three seasons in Turin. But how will they fare against each other in this clash? 

Dybala scored a controversial penalty in the 97th minute in the reverse fixture to snatch all three points from the hands of Milan. However, the Rossoneri team that is expected to start on Saturday against Juve will be a complete contrast to the one that started in the reverse fixture last season. Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alessio Romagnoli were the only names on the team sheet in their 2-1 defeat last season that could start on Saturday. 

It will be the home side that will be expected to dominate possession. Dybala could see a lot of the ball, and if that's the case, he should get an opportunity or two to score. Bonucci will feel like he's got a point to prove in this game, let's just hope he's prepared for a hostile reception from the Juventus fans.

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Team News

The hosts are set to be without Giorgio Chiellini, Sami Khedira and Alex Sandro as they go into this key clash. They are all expected to be rested for the midweek Champions League clash against Real Madrid on Tuesday. 

Mario Mandzukic was sent home early from international duty so he is likely to start. Meanwhile, Federico Bernardeschi should learn over the next few days whether he requires surgery that would effectively end his season.

As for Gattuso's side, Alessio Romagnoli has returned to training ahead of this Saturday’s trip to Juventus. Barring any setbacks, he should be available.

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Potential Lineups:

Potential Juventus Starting Lineup: Buffon, Lichtsteiner, Chiellini, Rugani, Alex Sandro, Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi, Dybala, Douglas Costa, Higuain.

Potential AC Milan Starting Lineup: Donnarumma, Borini, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez, Kessie, Biglia, Calhanoglu, Bonaventura, Cutrone, Suso.

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Serie A's two in-form clubs will go all out to try and get a victory, and neither team is going to roll over in this one. This fixture is always a tight affair if history is anything to go by, and with so much at stake, we don't expect anything different in this game.

With Milan being in such impressive form, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Juventus concede their first Serie A goal in 2018. However, it's hard to envision the visitors claiming all three points at The Old Lady's fortress.

Prediction: Juventus 1-1 Milan