Preview: Europa League Group Stage – Austria Wien vs. AC Milan

By Grégory Leclercq -

Having lost 4-1 to Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, AC Milan prepare to kick off their Europa League campaign in Austria looking to improve.

Date: Thursday, September 14
Time: 19:00 CET
Venue: Ernst Happel Stadium, Vienna
TV Guide: beIN Sports USA, BT Sports 3

It’s no surprise that a lot of criticism has already rained on Vincenzo Montella’s team since the catastrophe on Sunday.

The club that had shown enormous ambition and willingness to be taken seriously for the coming season, but let themselves down by conceding four goals in less than 20 minutes in the capital.

Following the coach’s conclusion that the group lacked mental strength on the day, it will be the players own responsibility to get back on track on Thursday night.


Reports such as Sky suggest that Montella, in hope to revive the team spirit will try switching once again to 3-5-2 against Austria Wien.

The given formation was always a utopia for a three-man defence and higher-pushing full-backs in the coach’s mind and will be expected to bring stability back into the team.

The formation, which was tried against KF Shkendija on the return leg of the Europa League play-off, a match won 1-0 by the Rossoneri, had not given great satisfaction and it will be Montella’s role to make it work this time.

Squad list: A. Donnarumma, G. Donnarumma, Storari; Abate, Antonelli, Bonucci, Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Zapata; Biglia, Bonaventura, Calhanoglu, Kessie, Locatelli, Montolivo; Cutrone, Kalinic, André Silva, Suso.

Rodriguez, Borini and Conti have all three been excluded from the squad. The first two are supposedly left to rest for turnover while Conti is still left at home following his injury scare playing with Italy last week.

Probable formation (3-5-2): G. Donnarumma; Musacchio (Zapata), Bonucci, Romagnoli; Abate, Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura, Antonelli; Suso, Kalinic.


Austria Wien is one of the two biggest teams of Vienna, the Austrian capital. The team who usually plays in bright purple are the second most titled team in their league, having won 24 titles while Rapid Wien, the other team from the “Wiener” derby has won 32 of them.

Although they both have an impressive historical record, the league has been dominated for years now by Red Bull Salzburg and Austria Wien’s last league title dates back to 2013.

The team, which is nicknamed “‘Die Veilchen“, which means “The Violets”, have finished 2nd in their domestic league last season.


Austria Wien’s previous meeting was a 2-2 draw at home against Wolfsberger AC. They qualified for Europa League playing against NK Osijek in the EL play-off, winning 2-1 in Croatia and then losing 1-0 at home which was enough to see them trough.

As for AC Milan, they qualified after a thumping 7-0 aggregate against KF Shkendija, allowing the team to play a European competition for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.

Surprisingly though, the Violets and the Rossoneri have never met in an official game up until today. The Vienna team though has already played against Inter, winning 3-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 of the 1983-1984 UEFA Cup.


AC Milan: The whole team was subject to poor performances and it wasn’t as if any player had played well during Sunday’s 4-1 defeat. Even players like Suso or Cutrone who are used to lighting-up matches recently have been poor on the day.

However, a few players have shown a more positive display, as it was the case for Lucas Biglia who was aligned in the heart of midfield alongside Kessie and Montolivo.

Surely then, Milan’s new number 21 who arrived this summer from Lazio will be the main man to watch on Thursday night as the fans rely on him to lock-up the midfield and allow the team to create more chances from possession.

It will also be the first time we might see Kalinic and Andre Silva aligned together in the upper-part of the line-up.

For Austria Wien, the player who can be a real threat to AC Milan is Felipe Pires, a 22-year-old winger who usually plays on the left side.

The player, who is on loan from TSG Hoffenheim, has a real knack for beating defenders using his speed and technical abilities.

It is a sure thing that Abate (who is likely to play on the right-wing of the 3-5-2) will have to work hard to cope with the talented forward.


We at believe that Milan will be able to turn things around from the weekend and win 2-1 in Vienna on Thursday. On one hand, we see the team as willing to get back on track, especially for their first European game of the season as it takes all its sense playing European games with a Red and Black shirt on the back.

On the other hand, Milan’s defence has had a hard time keeping things tidy and organized at the back, conceding 5 goals in the last two games. Let’s also not forget that the 3-5-2 has only been tried once and with relatively low effectiveness.

Tags AC Milan Austria Milan Austria Wien Europa League Group Stage Italy Milan Montella News Rossoneri Round 1 Serie A Vienna
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