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Champions League – Milan vs. Anderlecht Preview: Lucky Charm

I used to believe in luck, but I am not so sure anymore. Take, for example, this stat: Both times Milan have previously faced Anderlecht in the Champions League, Milan have gone on to win the title. Which would normally make Anderlecht our lucky charm, right? But this season, things are simply different. This season, we’ll be lucky to get past Anderlecht at all. With the way our fortunes have changed this summer, we’ll need a whole lot more than luck in the Champions League this season.

Anderlecht are in the habit of winning, here celebrating their latest league title


So Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht, or R.S.C. Anderlecht are kind of like the Juventus of the Belgian Pro League. In fact, they were even found guilty of bribing a referee to get to the 1983 UEFA Cup final. But where they differ is that they actually have 31 uncontested league titles, and greater success in Europe. In fact, the UEFA club coefficient rankings for this past season actually rank them at 41st, while Juve rank only 43rd. Therefore, Anderlecht are better than Juve. Which means we’re in trouble.

I typically don’t fear men who wear purple. It’s nothing personal, but I really don’t care for the color on anyone, honestly. They say it’s a royal color, and this stems back to the time when dyes were relatively new, and red and purple were two of the most rare and expensive dye colors to get, so they were reserved for royalty. If that were still the case today, this would certainly be one royal matchup.

At this point in our season, I fear just about anything and anyone. My daughter’s school team full of young girls wants to take on Milan? Please, no! It’s humiliating enough to lose to grown men. But something inside me won’t stop wanting to fight, won’t stop believing that we can win, if we can just put the pieces of the puzzle together for 90 minutes. And what better timing to do that than in the Champions League, where Milan have had such success in the past? And what better place to do it than at home, in front of our own fans, on the new pitch, which has yet to be christened with a home victory? Who wants to kick some Belgian butt? Who’s with me? Anyone? Allegri? No one? Okay, sorry.

Remember when we had all of those other players and we won? Good times.

Allegri has made himself a focal point for this match. And not in the way the Mourinho claims to do it. Because Allegri drags the team into the spotlight with him. Oh, Niang is not a player for now, but a player for the future? Maybe that’s something you don’t say out loud, Mister, especially considering you’ve given him all of 2 ½ minutes in a match. But barring some divine intervention, he is still coaching this squad for this match. And I certainly believe in this squad. So I know they will do everything in their power to turn these Belgians into waffles.

Anderlecht manager John van den Brom is new at the helm this season after having some success in the Dutch Eridvisie league. Despite his new Belgian side Anderlecht having never won in Italy, van den Brom is likely relishing his chances after Milan’s poor league start and overall implosion. He will likely start with a lineup of Proto; Odoi, Wasilewski, Deschacht, Safari; Gillet, Biglia, Kanu, Yakovenko; Mbokani, and De Sutter.

Jovanovic and Kanu celebrate upon hearing of Milan's 2nd league loss...

Allegri will field 11 players. I’m so tired of trying to guess who. I mean Abbiati is a pretty sure bet unless Allegri injures him between now and tomorrow. I’d go with De Sciglio, but Allegri would likely pick Abate. I’d go with Mexés or Zapata or even my grandmother over Bonera, but I think we all know who will start there. Does Acerbi get the nod? Or does he go with the experienced Yepes? Hard to say.  Antonini is another sure bet, but at least he had one good game recently.

The midfield will possibly be a little easier to call given Ambrosini’s knock the other day, but then again, if he’s not in a wheelchair, Allegri will likely line him up. But I would guess he’ll put the virtually useless Flamini out with De Jong and Nocerino, plus the scoreless chicken Boateng behind the strikers. El Shaarawy and Pazzini will likely start up top, crowning his evergreen 4-3-1-2 formation that we all know and love. If it were me and my job was on the line, I’d personally switch to a 4-3-2-1 with Urby and Boateng (or maybe El Sharaawy) behind Pazzini. But it’s not me and it’s not my job, my job is merely to question, complain, and applaud, if that ever becomes necessary again. Oh, and to bleed red and black, I feel the need for a transfusion coming on shortly…

Allegri's newest game: spot the champions... can you find them?

If I still believed in luck, I would do every lucky ritual, buy every lucky charm I could find, and anything else I could think of to try to invoke the luck of Champions League seasons past. But I don’t believe in luck this season, and Milan will need so much more than that anyway. But looking at this one game, it is winnable. Especially if Anderlecht’s entire starting lineup were to take ill, for example, or if they struggle more than us on the new pitch or something. A little part of me does believe that we have what it takes to pull this one off. Does Allegri? I don’t know. I don’t envy the enormous amount of pressure he’s got on top of an already difficult job at this point. Let’s just hope he’s solved the puzzle, and picks the right 11 players to do the job. Or that Anderlecht fall prey to a case of the jitters or something. With a little of that elusive luck and a lot of Milan, maybe we’ll just pull this one off.


This post inspired by the music of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”


Champions League Group Stage Match
Milan vs. Anderlecht
Tuesday, September 18th • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)
This match is NOT being broadcast in the U.S. that I can find
Check for streams in the comments about 2 hrs. before the match