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Europa League • Milan-Austria Wien Preview: Blitzkrieg

Bonucci sent a video message to the fans the other day asking for their support on Thursday because Milan can secure our place in the next round with a win vs. Austria Wien. And I don’t know about you, but I do whatever Bonucci asks me to do because he’s Bonucci. (translation: badass.) But it made me realize that after defeating them 5-1 in their house in September, Milan can be decisive on Thursday, even with our questionable performances of late and Montella’s woeful tactics and lineups. So I’m hoping for a blitzkrieg, or “lightning war” directly translated. It’s a swift and powerful, often surprise attack which is meant to guarantee victory in a war. So basically the opposite of how Milan have been playing.

Kind of like that

Austria Wien sit in third place in Group D, with a win, a draw, and two losses. Their fate is not sealed, but is also not entirely up to them anymore. If they win their remaining matches and other results go their way, they technically could move on, which gives them nothing to lose and everything to play for.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, the currently sit sixth. They lost their league match on Saturday 3-2 to FC Admera Wacker Modling, despite maintaining 64% possession and taking nearly twice the shots of their opponents.  For that match, Coach Fink lined up Pentz; Salamon, Gluhakovic, Borkovic, Mohammed, Holzhayuser, Serbest, Prokop, Pires, and Friesenbichler. Fink has a nightmarish list of long term injuries, including three players with cruciate ligament ruptures. So he is without keeper Almer, winger Venuto, midfielders Demaku and Grünwald, and defenders Martschinko, Ruan, Klein, and Westermann. Ouch.

Soldiers returning for duty

The thing is that Milan have problems showing up, so we can’t exactly be confident of taking advantage of Austria Wien’s injury situation. Montella has a few injuries of his own, too. Obviously Conti, who is recovering well, but will not be back until late February or March. Suso will not be available due to his new injury, and Romagnoli has the flu. Abate is very unlikely as is Calabria, who is just returning to training with the ball, but they are being very cautious because of his injury last year. The good news is that Rodriguez, who apparently had the flu on the weekend, and Calhanoglu should both be available once again.

Milan struggled against Napoli in the first half, but in the second half played with increasing determination, even if the performance was still poor overall. But if they could pull that result off against Napoli, then they should be ready for a dominating performance against Austria Wien. If they can find their fire and play despite the bizarre lineups and tactics they are given each match, then this one could possibly be the blitzkrieg on home soil to seal our spot in the next round.

This post inspired by the music of Rammstein

Europa League Group Stage
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien
Thursday, November 23 • 21:05 CET (3:05pm EST)
This match will be shown LIVE on Fox Sports 2 in the U.S.