There are five things AC Milan need to do when they host Manchester United in the second leg of the Europa League round of 16. The first match at Old Trafford ended in a 1-1 draw after Milan equalised in the game’s dying moments.
That goal was massive as it gave the Rossoneri the away goal advantage as well as momentum coming into this game. This match will not be easy, as United will have a couple of stars return to the pitch. Milan, however, need to advance to rev up their engines after a tough stretch over the last two months.
Five Things AC Milan Need to Do to Advance Over Manchester United
Theo Hernandez: The Return of the AC Milan Jack of all Trades
First of all, he’s progressed quite well as a defender. Starting at the left-back position, he’ll likely be in charge of tracking down Daniel James. The Welshman is a speedster and difficult to cover at times, but Hernandez will certainly keep up.
The best part of Hernandez’s game, making him a jack of all trades, is his attacking ability. At times it’s easy to forget he’s a defender as he’s equally as good going forward into the left-wing. Hernandez has an absolute rocket of a shot, but his dribbling and pace allow him to create space to deliver accurate crosses.
The bottom line is this: if Dalot performed well, Hernandez certainly will. He’ll be Milan’s x-factor.
Fikayo Tomori Must Start on the Right Side
The big news for United is that Marcus Rashford is back. He’ll likely start on the left-wing. Milan’s Davide Calabria is questionable to start, so it seems likely Dalot will slot in at right-back. Dalot is usually reliable but Rashford presents an entirely different kind of challenge than other Serie A wingers.
With this being said, Fikayo Tomori must start as the right centre-back. His toughness and athleticism have been on display since his arrival at Milan, so he must be relied upon to close down Rashford if (or when) he gets past Dalot.
Tomori also has Premier League experience under his belt, giving him a better understanding of Rashford and United. He has quickly become a star at Milan and this match is another opportunity to sell the club on the idea of purchasing him outright this summer if they haven’t been convinced already.
AC Milan Must Give Franck Kessie Full Reign
Franck Kessie was the man of the match in the minds of most Milan faithful in the first leg. He saw a goal questionably disallowed, but that didn’t deter him as he spent the entire match dominating the midfield. United will field a similar midfield once again, allowing Kessie to usher in his dominance.
His play was reminiscent of former Milan legend Clarence Seedorf in the first match. He’s also been the Rossoneri‘s most consistent player all season. The key to victory is to simply let Kessie be Kessie. He’s a mastermind of the game and succeeds going forward and tracking back. Giving him the keys to doing what he does best is a sure path to a good match.
Feed Ante Rebic
Ante Rebic, a traditional winger, will likely start at striker as many of Milan’s forwards are struggling for fitness. Rebic was just handed a two-match suspension in Serie A, so he’ll try to make a statement in this match as he won’t see the pitch for a while after it.
When Rebic is on his game he’s very difficult to stop. His mixture of tenacity, strength, and intelligence should make him a nightmare to cover in the box. As long as he positions himself well to avoid any offside calls, Milan should expect a strong game and a goal or two from the Croatian talisman is not out of reach.
The Return of the Stellar AC Milan Duo
Much of Milan’s recent poor form can be attributed to the injuries of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ismael Bennacer. Both have returned to training and should be in the squad for the match. It’s unlikely that either start, but having them readily available on the bench will be a major boost.
Ibrahimovic can be counted on if a goal is needed, but he’s also the team’s leader and can come on to maintain a lead and create calmness. He’ll find himself on the pitch at some point.
Bennacer tends to be the brain of the Milan midfield, which is why he’s a terrific partner for Kessie. His intelligence and calmness will also be key, and he’ll be brought in for the same reasons as Ibrahimovic.
The duo’s return could not have come at a better time, as advancing over United will give Milan a much-need jumpstart.