It feels like the season just ended, but now Milan are gearing up to start the new one. These are certainly strange times and as the opener is just one day away, the Rossoneri have only had a few weeks – including four friendly games – to prepare for what will be an important season.
On the other hand, the players were forced to give up long vacations and thus will be in somewhat good shape from the previous term. One can only hope that the preparation Stefano Pioli opted for was enough to restore most of the fitness levels they displayed this summer. That being said, all teams are in the same situation.
Milan will start their season with the clash against Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League qualifiers. As a result of their 6th place finish last season, the Rossoneri will enter the competition in the second round and thus need to win three games in order to seal a group-stage ticket. In other words, Thursday’s clash is the first step.
Unlike Pioli’s side, Shamrock Rovers have already started their season and have played 11 games in the Irish top tier so far. They are in first place with 29 points and will have a lot of confidence heading into the game, which is something that Paolo Maldini has raised concerns about recently.
“We are ready, I hope. It’s a game that scares us a lot. It’s a team that is doing well, first in their league, we have some problems, Rebic disqualified, Leao injured. We play away from home in a knockout match, we are rightly worried,” he stated.
It’s a game that the Rossoneri should win quite easily on paper, but as said, these are very strange times. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has seemingly recovered from his injury and will be available for the game, meaning youngster Lorenzo Colombo will start on the bench despite his good form as of late.
As Ante Rebic is serving a three-game ban, and Rafael Leao is still out with an injury, Alexis Saelemaekers is expected to start on the left. Some reports have suggested that Brahim Diaz could start, but the Belgian is ahead as was confirmed by the starting eleven against Brescia last time out.
Sandro Tonali and Ciprian Tataursanu have both been included in the Europa League squad and will travel with the team to Ireland. The former will be inserted into the team over time and could perhaps get a few minutes in the second half, while the goalkeeper most likely will feature in cup games bar Thursday’s clash.
Possible Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Kessie, Bennacer; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers (Brahim Diaz); Ibrahimovic.
Hopefully, the Rossoneri will do what’s required from them and bring the win back to Italy. It might not be an easy game, especially due to the circumstances, but it’s one that Milan must win to start their season in the right way. After all, regardless of the opponent, it would be a nice boost ahead of the Bologna clash on Monday.
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