GdS: Milan want to settle Slavia tie in first leg – the strong team Pioli will field

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan are aiming to do the bulk of the work in the first leg against Slavia Praha at San Siro on Thursday night, which will reportedly be reflected in Stefano Pioli’s team selection.

As this morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) writes, Pioli will be able to count on all the players that are in his squad list except one: Tommaso Pobega. That is something that has never happened in European competitions so far this season.

Abundance often calls for rotation, but for the challenge against the Czech side in the first leg of the round of 16 the coach will play it safe: the established starters will get the nod, with Rafael Leao leading them.

Against Rennes Leao scored both at San Siro and in France, and the yellow card he received on Friday at the Stadio Olimpico will allow Pioli to exploit his talent without thinking about the league because he will be disqualified against Empoli.

The Portuguese winger will be able to take to the field for the return leg in Prague more rested than his other team-mates, something that Pioli hopes to exploit in the event that the tie is precariously in the balance.

The same goes for Alessandro Florenzi, who will start on the right side of the defence and will also not be available for Sunday’s home game against Empoli having been booked in the capital.

The back four in front of Maignan will be completed by Theo Hernandez on the left and Malick Thiaw next to Matteo Gabbia in the centre. Against Lazio the German remained on the bench for almost the entire match, leaving room for Simon Kjaer. This time the Dane will be watching from the sidelines.

There is a good chance that this will be the only change compared to the side that beat Lazio, because Yacine Adli and Ismael Bennacer are also moving towards keeping their place despite the competition from Tijjani Reijnders and Yunus Musah.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek will again be used in a more advanced role, with Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic joining Leao in the attacking department. Pioli will ask the usual suspects for the goals, even if they are struggling recently.

Pulisic hasn’t scored in four games, Giroud in three, but there is little doubt about their presence against Slavia. If the drought continues, the reserve will provide: Luka Jovic and Noah Okafor are ready to come off the bench.


Tags AC Milan Milan Slavia Praha

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