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PSV Eindhoven vs. Milan Preview: The Road Not Taken


When two roads emerged in the woods last season for Milan, we chose the Champions League qualification round, rather than the direct route. Just like in Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken”:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Many have pointed out the fact that the last time we took the “road less traveled by” via the qualification round, we ended up winning the whole thing. But I don’t put much faith in magic repeating itself. Frankly, I just hope that this road takes us to the same destination as “the road not taken”: the Champions League Group Stage.

Had we taken the other road, we would not be facing a team with such an adorable mascot
Of course we could have taken the easy road. Securing a group stage spot during the season would have given us a few more weeks of reprieve before we had to add Champions League games into our season. But that road diverged probably around the Napoli game last season, and we made our choice with our results.

So the first leg on the road to the Group Stage is upon us, as we travel to Eindhoven to take on PSV. PSV are a team we’ve met before, with mixed results. As mentioned in last week’s podcast, they lost their captain, Mark van Bommel, to retirement, as well as Kevin Strootman to Roma and Dries Mertens to Napoli. So despite their 2nd place Eridvisie finish last season, their team is considerably weakened and freshly rebuilding.

He said goodbye to Milan, he said goodbye to football... so glad we won't be facing him tomorrow

However, we meet them three matches into their new season, where they are undefeated in those three games. Mark van Bommel warned Milan that PSV are a young and dangerous team. My only hope is that after tomorrow’s match, he says the same thing about Milan. Despite them being technically the underdogs, having defeated Belgian club Zulte-Waregem 5-0 on aggregate in the third qualifying round, this is likely to be a very tough matchup.

Milan’s road, on the other hand is riddled with injuries. But luckily, many are recovering just in time. Mexes is not suspended for this leg, but also may not start if he is not 100% fit. De Sciglio and Robinho are not fit and as such were not called up. Balotelli’s slight injury that kept him from playing for Italy last week seems to be gone. Gabriel, as you may have heard has a fairly serious shoulder injury, and it is uncertain when he will return. Other than the long-term injuries to the likes of Bonera and Pazzini, it seems that most of our summer injury concerns have been resolved, and Allegri will have most of his squad available.

Can Milan's Triple Threat™ help us reach our destination?

After the hard fought 11-0 victory over Serie D side Derthona on Saturday, I hope Milan have a little something left in the tank for this match. It’s all about priorities. But seriously, everyone seems to understand the importance of this match, as well as the return leg next Wednesday. So if Allegri doesn’t do anything strange to undermine the teams in terms of lineups or tactics, we definitely have a chance to reach the goal: The Champions League Group Stage. And that is all we can ask for right now, as we get ready to kickoff the season.

I hope that having taken the road less traveled, these two legs give us strength and confidence to do even better in the league, and obviously to book our ticket into the Champions League group stage. I know that I will appreciate the journey more if we succeed. So let’s hope that tomorrow’s match puts us further along the path, and that we don’t regret the road not taken.


This post inspired by the music of Ludo


Our next match is
Champions League Qualifying Round, First Leg
PSV Eindhoven vs. AC Milan
Tuesday, August 20 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
This match is being broadcast on Fox Sports 1 in the U.S.
Check here for stream links before the match