The first leg of this round of 32 matchup with Red Star wasn’t something to write home about. Red Star seemed very open and vulnerable at the back but Milan didn’t take full advantage of it for much of the 90. Attacking them down the middle always hinted at trouble for the hosts but as the match went Milan didn’t or wasn’t able to exploit it. Several starters were rested, as well as they should have, but the nominal superiority only resulted in a tie. Red Star’s very late equalizer was also a demostration of modern football’s march towards complexity and unnecessary complications of the offside rule.
Milan start the return in Milan by having added a couple of players to the injured list. Bennacer hurt his leg muscle during the first leg and won’t be available and Mandzukic is out as well. The idea will likely remain to rest as many possible for this match too. Ibra and Kjaer are likely to have another day off and possibly be joined by the likes of Rebic and Tonali on the bench.
The recent dip of form has made calls for a plan B including a change of formation louder but ideas featuring playing a 3 man defense are foreign to Milan and it remains likely that it will remain in the realm of online analysis and fan talk. A coach like Pioli will resist major changes and for better or worse stick to underperforming players such Romagnoli.
Tomori and Romagnoli will get another Europa League start but Calabria and Hernandez could be starters too. The latter’s continued use does not bode well for Dalot and the Manchester United loanee could be falling off of Pioli’s plans. In midfield Kessie could come in and Meite is another likely starter. Leao, Calhanoglu, Krunic, Castillejo may be preferred to Saelemaekers and the aforementioned Rebic and Ibra.
Red Star won again in the weekend and remain unbeaten in Serbia’s Super Liga.
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