Once again Europa League football meets Milan as they look to host English giants Manchester United at the San Siro. In the last meeting between the two sides, Milan pulled off an impressive result dominating Manchester United but only managed to come away with a 1-1 draw with a crucial away goal from Simon Kjaer in the final minutes of injury time. As things stand Milan has the advantage but this will not be an easy one as United has an impressive away record.
In Milan’s last game they lost bitterly to Napoli 1-0 at home though it wasn’t the result they wanted they played a fair game. Milan must pick their heads up and be ready for a fight to proceed to the next round. Simon Kjaer in his pre-match press conference said “If tomorrow we exit the competition and say we’re just a young team, then you’re just making excuses, it’s not right”. Though Milan has one of the youngest sides in Europe they have a talented squad who has shown exceptional quality throughout this long season. Injuries have hit both sides Mario Mandžukić still has not recovered from his injury but, Ismaël Bennacer, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Theo Hernandez, and Ante Rebić who all missed the first fixture have been included with the traveling squad. Additionally, Edison Cavani and Eric Bailly will not be included on United’s roster but they gain David De Gea, Dony Van de Beek, and Paul Pogba. Pioli must get his tactics right for this big matchup and here is how his team could appear:
Milan (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma, Calabria; Tomori, Kjaer, Hernadez; Tonali, Kessié; Saelemakers, Çalhanoğlu, Rebić, Ibrahimović
The key for Milan is to continue to dominate in the midfield, in the previous game Franck Kessié and Soualiho Meïte were extremely efficient together dominating the midfield area and keeping possession making wise passes. Both of their ball retentions were exceptional and helped Milan to press against United. With Tonali probably getting the start he must work with Kessié to control the midfield and make wise passes. Fikayo Tomori and Simon Kjaer will be partnered again to hold down the defense for Milan. Theo Hernadez, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Ante Rebić, and Zlatan Ibrahimović all get the chance to feature against United and to unleash their creativity to bolster Milan’s attacking output. For Zlatan, this is a special one as he returns to face his former team where he won the Europa League title back in 2016/17. Pioli and his men will be hungry for a win to advance to the next round and there will be no excuses for the Rossoneri to not advance after a great performance in the first leg.