SERIE A league leaders Milan host perennial champions Juventus in Wednesday night's standout showdown from Italy. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB) is on-hand to preview his favourite fancies.
Milan vs Juventus | Wednesday 6th January 2020, 19:45 | Premier Sports
One of the most important dates in the Italian calendar, The Epiphany, hosts one of the most eagerly awaited clashes in Serie A, as Scudetto holders Juventus travel to table toppers AC Milan aiming to close the current 10-point gap.
The Old Lady have Juan Cuadrado back from suspension but like Alex Sandro has now tested positive for COVID so will join the injured Alvaro Morato in taking a watching brief only for this clash of the titans.
The Rossoneri did what (aspiring) champions do and ground out a 2-0 away win at the weekend overcoming the loss of Sandro Tonali to a first half red card with Rafael Leao, the man standing in for the injured Zlatan Ibrohimivic, clinching the three points.
The opening goal for Stefano Pioli’s men came in familiar fashion – 12 yards from goal – their 10th penalty award of the league season, dispatched by Franck Kessie, and with Juventus having been awarded five spot kicks themselves that makes a combined total of 15 from 29 matches.
Referee Massimiliano Iratti is yet to award a penalty from his first four appointments of the season and looking further back has now gone eight Serie A games since pointing to the spot, however, prior to that the 41-year-old official gave at least one penalty in five successive fixtures totaling seven awards.
His overall average of one penalty every three games (38 awarded in 123 Serie A appearances) is good enough for me to put forward the award of another penalty here at best odds of 31/20 with Unibet.
For those of you looking for bigger odds and wanting to use Bet Victor’s Bet Builder option to pick a certain player to score a penalty, the expected takers are the aforementioned Kessie and Cristiano Ronaldo available at 15/4 and 17/5 respectively.
Although I am not putting Kessie forward to score from the spot the likelihood he will be the man to step up if a penalty is awarded makes the 7/5 on offer from Poker Stars for the Ivorian to have a shot on target look very appealing.
The 24-year-old has scored five goals from 13 league starts this campaign, four of which from the spot and has managed a shot on target every 178 minutes in all competitions.
As for a winner, I have to side with the home team.
Protecting an unbeaten 2020/21 home league record (W4, D3) AC Milan have been in great goalscoring form, bagging at least two goals in each of their last 17 Serie A fixtures and in 12 of their last 13 at home.
The San Siro outfit may need to stretch that run to claim three points against Andrea Pirlo’s side though after allowing 25 shots on their goal in that weekend victory over Benevento and despite having the fourth best defensive record this term they have conceded two or more goals in five of their last six home fixtures.
Those are the sort of stats that will have Cristiano Ronaldo licking his lips.
Fresh from another two-goal haul in the 4-1 weekend romp against Udinese, an incredible seventh brace in just 15 appearances for his club this season the Portuguese legend will surely fancy his chances of adding to his 14 Serie A goals and extending his lead at the top of the Capocannoniere standings.
Despite a goalless first half in this fixture last season – behind closed doors in July – the sixth time in the last eight meetings there have been no first half goals, Milan responded to going two goals down to score four of their own in the last 30 minutes, the first of which being a penalty, to end up resounding 4-2 victors.
Therefore the 4/1 on offer with Bet365 for Milan and both teams to score looks like a great price to me in what should be an exciting game where if the result goes the way I expect could already rule out Juventus from winning a 10th successive Serie A title.