GdS: ‘A win with too many scares’ – Milan’s worries resurface in Slavia victory

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan won the first leg of their last 16 tie against Slavia Praha last night, but perhaps left the field feeling a bit disappointed with the performance.

As La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) recall, Milan played for almost 70 minutes with a man advantage because in the 26th minute, at 0-0, Diouf got a red card for a nasty challenge on Christian Pulisic.

That means Milan, a man up, managed to concede two goals against a Slavia team that actually got the upper hand in certain phases in the game. That begs the question, what will happen in Prague when it is 11 against 11 again?

The answer is difficult, especially because this Milan can do everything and nothing in equal measure. Rafael Leao is the emblematic player of such a two-faced side as he was walking for long stretches of the match, but then created something out of nothing to make it 4-2 at the end.

Slavia with their elastic 4-2-3-1 controlled every space, denied many passing lines and were quick to spread out. Milan dribbled without having a clear destination in mind. Leao was dozing on the left and Pulisic was mimicking him on the right.

The usual move, Alessandro Florenzi moving from the right to the centre during build-up, actually did immediate damage to Milan as he was booked inside two minutes. However, the night then became simplified by the left-back Diouf who got a red for an unnecessarily bad foul on Pulisic.

Down a man, Slavia moved their center of gravity back, but didn’t lose their boldness. It took Milan eight minutes to get their first goal and it took another two minutes for it to be back to 1-1. In these 120 seconds of ups and downs the entire season was contained, with the evident limit being mental consistency.

The equalising goal triggered something in Milan. Tijjani Reijnders scored the 2-1 with a shot from outside and Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed home a corner to make it 3-1 going into the interval. Game over right? Nope.

Those who expected Milan to resume in the second half were disappointed. Instead of chasing the 4-1 that would have knocked Slavia out in all likelihood, they seemingly tried to protect the 3-1, and then Schranz instead halved the deficit.

There was a move in which Slavia came close to drawing level and the fans really began to get on the back of Pioli’s side, but then the 4-2 came right at the end to give a little bit of peace of mind. This Milan continues to concede too many goals and the two goals conceded yesterday were unacceptable, given the advantage of the extra man.

On Thursday at the Eden Arena, Slavia’s stadium, the atmosphere will be red hot – the 4,500 noisy Czech fans at San Siro were the appetiser – and any qualification for the quarter-finals will be of no use if Milan have not learned the lesson: trophies are won with the head, with consistency, with mentality.


Tags AC Milan Milan Slavia Praha


  1. Milan looked terrified every time Slavia came forward, and defended terribly. Fair enough, both goals conceded were great strikes (the first one especially was a worldie) – but Slavia should have been shut down before they got into those positions. Very worrying for the return leg.

  2. Europa league is a jungle, whenever champions league sharks come down to europa they are swallowed by the jungle, whoever was thinking that its gonna be an easy ride was mistaken, europa teams are stubborn and very difficult to beat

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