The five key battles that could win or lose the game for Milan against Slavia Praha

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will face a hostile atmosphere at the Fortuna Arena tonight as they look to defend a 4-2 first leg lead against Slavia Praha and reach the Europa League quarter-finals.

Milan emerged victors in what was an entertaining first leg albeit one that provoked some worries from supporters and the media given that Slavia played for so long and scored twice with 10 men, keeping the contest very much open.

Tonight’s game will rest on some key battles across the field, starting with the one on the left side of Milan’s attack between Tomáš Vlček and Rafael Leao. Slavia are widely reported to be reverting to a back four, with the 23-year-old Vlcek out on the right side of it.

Leao meanwhile was very influential in the first leg as he provided the assists for the first and last goals on the night, and he also netted twice in the play-off round against Rennes including the goal that essentially sealed the tie.

The main man for Slavia at San Siro was probably David Douděra, who put in a tireless shift bombing up and down the right, scoring their equaliser in the first half with a rocket of a volley from just outside the edge of the box.

All three of his goals have come in the Europa League, so Theo Hernandez will have to be very attentive on the left side of Milan’s defence. If he allows Doudera to get joy then it could be a long night, but the Frenchman can also pin him back with well-timed forays forward.

Oscar Dorley was also bright for the Czech side in the first leg, and he faces a duel with Ruben Loftus-Cheek who will again start in the more advanced midfield role for Milan as per the reports circulating.

The 25-year-old Liberia international has made 32 appearances for Slavia this season which demonstrates his important, and the way he shields the defence but also surges forward gives RLC something to consider, but he will hope to add to his tally with his own forward runs.

Given that the onus is on the home side to come at Milan and try get the first goal(s), we end with two defensive battles for the Rossoneri. Mojmír Chytil and Václav Jurečka should be the centre-forward and attacking midfielder respectively for Slavia.

That means Matteo Gabbia and Fikayo Tomori will be tasked with stopping them given Jurecka likes to play off the No.9 and get into dangerous areas. Tomori has looked sharp since making his return from injury, while Gabbia would come back in after being rested for the Empoli game. A clean sheet would be lovely, because the defensive resilience must improve for Milan to go all the way.


Tags AC Milan Slavia Praha Milan


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