Official: Rennes vs. AC Milan starting XIs – five changes from Monza loss

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has named his starting line-up for the second leg against Rennes at Roazhon Park, and there are a few changes from the weekend defeat to Monza as expected.

Starting with the unavailable players, Pioli will not have Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Tommaso Pobega and Kevin Zeroli for the game due to injury.

The boss has decided to name a back four in front of Mike Maignan which is made up of Alessandro Florenzi and Theo Hernandez as the full-backs plus Matteo Gabbia and Simon Kjaer – in for Malick Thiaw – as centre-backs.

Yunus Musah, Ismael Bennacer and Tijjani Reijnders are the midfielders that have been called upon, though it remains to be seen if it will be a three or if one of them will play further forward to replace Ruben Loftus-Cheek positionally.

In the attack, Christian Pulisic has taken his spot back from Samuel Chukwueze on the right, with Rafael Leao coming back in for Noah Okafor on the left and Luka Jovic up front.

Rennes have named a very attacking side given they need to overturn a three-goal deficit, with Terrier, Kalimuendo, Bourigeaud and Desire Doue all starting.

Official Milan XI (4-3-3): Maignan; Florenzi, Kjaer, Gabbia, Theo Hernandez; Bennacer, Musah; Pulisic, Reijnders, Leao; Jovic.

Bench: Sportiello, Mirante, Terracciano, Bartesaghi, Thiaw, Nsiala, Adli, Loftus-Cheek, Eletu, Chukwueze, Okafor, Giroud.

Official Rennes XI (4-3-3): Mandanda; G.Doué, Omari, Theate, Truffert; D. Doué, Santamaria, Bourigeaud, Terrier; Gouiri, Kalimuendo.

Bench: Gallon, Lembert, Matusiwa, Blas, Wooh, Belocian, Salah, Seidu, Cisse, Lambourde, Bertug, Yildirim.


Tags AC Milan Rennes Milan


  1. Pioli’s logic: let’s rest our top players when playing against Monza to get 2nd spot AND let’s play our best players and don’t give them a rest when we’re leading 3-0 against a mediocre French team in Europe League….

  2. I only disagree with starting Theo and starting both Leao and Puli. I think Theo should have gotten a rest, with Terraciano getting the start, and I think Leao and Chuk should have been the starting wingers, with Okafor coming in at the 60th, with Pulisic remaining on the bench, unless somehow Rennes pull a couple back in which case Leao stays on, Puli comes on for Chukwueze, and Theo comes on for Terraciano. Smart rotation means rotating two maybe three players max at a time and spread between different departments, not 5-6 players and not the entire attack or midfield at the same time.

    1. @Vero Rossonero,
      Sorry to disagree but Monza scored 2 goals easily for our bench players and Rennes is way stronger than Monza. If they score 2 goals, our players will lose their sh*t and game is in France.
      I wouldn’t underestimate them like that.

      Terraciano on Theo???
      Have you watched Terraciano before joining to Milan? He is a right back, can be converted to centre back but he never played as a left back.

      Current starting XI is the best possible starters.
      Let’s take them seriously (at least till half time) then if everything goes on well, we can start subs on the front.

      1. I think you raise good points, but the Monza game was particular. We had a CB commit a terrible mistake, which lead to a penalty and the opening goal at the 45 minute. Then because the team was probably in shock you have the second goal minutes later, still in 1st half injury time. If Thiaw doesn’t give them that penalty we go into the half at 0-0 and the second half would have been a completely different affair. As it was, we started the 2nd half 2-0 down and then Jovic goes and gets himself red carded.

        We’re leading 3-0 against Rennes. Even if we play they way we did for the first 44 minutes against Monza it would be fine. Just don’t give up penalties and go a man down. And even so, I’m not calling for our best player (Leao) to start from the bench, I’m calling for him to start. Yes, Terraciano is a risk, but he’s seen the most minutes of anyone on the team. Do you want him to be exhausted (or even injured) in April and May when we’re playing Liverpool, or Leverkusen or Atalanta? I think given this beefy midfield double pivot of Musah and Bennacer we’ll be OK playing Terra, also given that he will probably stay back as opposed to going forward like Theo. And if we’re playing a true 4-3-3, then Rejinders will be further back as well.

        1. Well, I want to agree with you but my heart can’t take another elimination.

          We got punished more than enough for underestimating opponents in the last 2 seasons.

          I think it is not bad to play at least 45 minutes with best players today. If they somehow manage to lead by 2 goals, I am afraid we don’t have strong character on our players to stop them.

          There is no need to think about Leverkusen or Liverpool right now. We have to beat at least opponents first. Let’s focus on current opponents first.

          Anyway, thanks for sharing thoughts

  3. I will say, see the first 9 minutes of this match, that whomever is Milan’s next coach, it ought to be someone that can teach this squad how to play some possession football when we need it. Pioli only has one speed: full speed ahead, eyes closed.

  4. And we’ve gone down 1-0. Our four defenders with no midfielder in the middle in front of them. Who sets up a defense like this?

  5. Best thing is that these people in the comment section are not coach lol

    You guys would play with Primavera ‘because it is 3:0 already’

    Game is over only after final whistle! Never forget that.

  6. Its much easier and more fun to watch a typical Milan game with end to end basketball style, when we have a 3 goal lead

  7. So much open space in this match.
    Feels like the sort of situation Adli would shine in, maybe at halftime since Musah is looking kind of shaky atm.

  8. Lol. Leao has had 4-5 one on ones with Rennes defenders, and just can’t get by them. A real top player would have roasted these guys at least a couple of times. Incredible.

  9. Lazy Leao has exactly 0 successful dribbles in this game, and this against a farmers league team. It burnes my eyes watching this clown with the ball on his feet…

    1. It hurts to see “clown” comments like this every time, too, but here we are. Except Leao actually contributes goals and opens up play, while your comment offers less than that 🙂

      Yes, have a good day, friend.

        1. Mira, buddy, just give up. I don’t have anything against you, but I will call you out ( and everyone else) when I see idiotic comments. That’s all.

          There’s critical and there’s idiotic. A nobody on this thread calling Leao a clown is just idiotic…. Do you understand?

  10. I’m not sure what formation we’re playing. Everyone apart from the defenders seem to be everywhere. We’re so porous in midfield 🤦‍♂️wayyyy too much space being left

  11. I personally would have wanted to see a stronger formation against Monza myself. Giroud should have started that and Jovic rested.

    But there are many reasons why we do want to do well in the EL. One is coefficients and two is the payout if we win it.

  12. Jovic in the season 10 goals, 1 assist. Free transfer, low salary, that’s a pretty good deal, especially considering that for a large part of the season he was off physical form. Once he got fit, he’s been consistently scoring as long as he gets good service. He is not a mobile guy who chases on his own after opportunities but when he gets good service, he finishes well. He has good positioning and good finishing which is refreshing given that our other forwards for the most part are not exactly known for good finishing. For his low salary and good goal scoring stats, we must keep him past June. Yep, he cost us 3 points last Sunday but he’s saved us from dropping points, many times.

    1. 8-1 now but regardless of what happened against monza i agree we should definitely keep him, contribution wise in combined goals/assists pr minutes played i believe he is the second best on the team after giroud.

        1. He should be more professional in that sense that you cant really get away with it nowadays but people should look up maradona doing karate kicks against a bunch of athl bilbao players. Anyways if he stays beyond the season which i hope and think that he will, he will still be a backup fighting for a spot and he is effective and seems to fit the money ball style. I was actually one of the very few people who could see him become a success with us and i think has become one even with the monza mental mishap but he probably should learn from it if he wants a new contract.

          1. FC Tables shows 10 goals, 1 assist, updated to the current game.

            Anyway, given that maybe half of his minutes played were at a time when he was off-form and a traffic cone, if we we discount those minutes, his average is even better.

          2. fair enough guess we will just leave it at that but not sure which one is right.

            Absolutely and an astute assessment, at the start of the season i would be satisfied if he just worked his socks off which he then realy didnt do but he was clearly several kilos heavier than now and has done pretty marvelous for us in the meantime.

    1. He isn’t on top form since the first leg. He has taken a knock I had read. But you can tell he’s lacking confidence because normally he puts away the chances he had in this game.

      I hope he rediscovers his form but even so I am still happy with his contributions.

    1. Amazing. You guys who hate Rafa are never satisfied. He is a forward. He scores goals and makes assists, even if for most of a game he is quiet. I don’t want anything else from him if he keeps scoring and making assists. He intercepted the ball on his own, got past the defenders, and scored. What else do you want? And he’s got a calf injured, he’s not at 100% physical form. When he is at top form, often he upsets a lot the opponent’s defense and they can’t stop him unless they double mark him which opens spaces for others.

      1. Nobody hates Rafa, he is our star. The fact he can be so wasteful and frustrating is also true.
        What we all want to see is a fit and confident Rafa who takes his chances

  13. I swear leão has instructions to not sprint.
    Probably to not get him injured needlessly.
    He has been jogging all game, and we all know he loves his sprints. Odd.

    1. This has to be your first Milan game you are watching if you think Leao is jogging not to get injured. Leao has been jogging his hole career.
      You must have never heard of his nickname LAZY L

      1. I mean on the ball.
        His go-to is to beat his man with pace, but today he hasn’t even tried to.
        Off the ball I’m more than aware of his deficiencies.

  14. Soft penalty, unfair.

    And for all the critics of Rafael Leao, what about that? Intercepted the ball, scored this goal all on his own.

    Leao often does poorly for a while but then scores or assists. That’s all I want from him.

  15. Two soft penalties against us. The first one wasn’t one at all, the second one, the ball hit the player’s flank rather than arm.

    Mike hasn’t stopped a penalty in ages. To be fair, the Rennes player does take masterful penalty shots.

  16. This referee needs to go officiate a little league baseball game. And even then I’m sure they’d fire him. Awful. I haven’t seen such poor officiating in a long time.

  17. 2 games and we conceded 7 goals….
    Some serious work needs to be done in defense. We can’t keep playing hockey on football pitch

  18. We got through but that was awful.
    We can’t ship three to Rennes and somehow hope to win this competition.
    Let’s all pray for a miracles cause we’ll need it.

    1. As much as i hate to lose any match or even draw, to be fair we actually also lost or drew games against worse or equal teams to rennes when we ended up wining cl tournaments in the past. Milan 0-1 ifk gothneburg comes to mind 93-94, Lens loss, liberec draw 02-03 and there is probably many others i cant recollect at the moment but fact is that we have a difficult match in the weekend and also rested some players and also missed some sitters as well so this could easily have been a win as well.
      The thing that had me the most nervous tonight was Maignan taking too long releasing the ball after first being warned by the ref and then yellow carded and still drasgging out time afterwards. Besides of that both penalties was uber soft from my point of view.

  19. Defensive woes continue under Pioli. He just hasn’t been able to solidify the back. So this game was uglier than it needed to be.

    But, we did what we had to and Rennes, bless their heart, didn’t. I’m sure many will call this win lucky. But it really wasn’t. For all the pushing forward that Rennes did, they needed two soft PK’s to try to come close.

    So we move on to the next opponent. FORZA MILAN ⚫️🔴

      1. How do you call it luck when one team does what it needs to to progress, and the other team doesn’t? That’s called the job done. If anything, we were unlucky with the penalty calls.

        Maybe you and I understand luck differently.

          1. milaneven when great has bagged many qualifications over the years by doing that fact is the collective memory is bad in regard of that and we have an important match this weekend so calculations in resting some players at least for now was smart regardless of the result and we could actually fairly easy have scored several goals more than we did both early on and later on in the match.
            Still never nice to lose a match, though

          2. I agree in the sense that Milan doesn’t close opposing players soon enough allowing shots on goal, which has been happening all season. Pioli hasn’t fixed it.

            But all Rennes did was Spray & Pray. Of the 24 shots only one went in. They were terrible, man.

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