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Europa League • HNK Rijeka-AC Milan: Bottom Feeders


With literally nothing to lose and nothing to gain, Rijeka host Gattuso’s European debut on Thursday. If that goes anything like the bottom of the Serie A table’s Benevento match, then we have plenty to fear. Milan are top of their group, guaranteed to advance, and Rijeka are the bottom of the group, guaranteed not to advance. Which means that all they have to gain is our misery and humiliation at the hands of the team at the bottom of our group. That’s what bottom feeders do… thrive off of the trash that fell to the bottom.

The level of celebration when a last-gasp goal is needed after giving up a two goal lead

Rijeka currently sit fourth in the Croatian League, after winning both the league and the Croatian Cup last year. On Saturday, they lost 2-1 to second place Hajduk Split. For that match, Kek lined up Prskalo; Vesovic, Puncec, Zuparic, Zuta, Males, Bradaric, Kvzic, Misic, Gorgon, and Gavranovic. I believe he is missing Heber to injury. It’s hard to know what Kek will do otherwise, knowing that the match is pointless. But also knowing that he could make the Rijeka fans very happy to make Milan drop points in Croatia.

Gattuso is somewhere in a corner, huddled up with a copy of “Coaching for Dummies.” I give him points for donating his well-deserved Tapiro d’oro to charity. That way he doesn’t have to stare at it and have it remind him of his failure and maybe it will make some money for a good cause, too. But he will still have Milan fans and the world looking at him on Thursday. And he will be without Conti, of course, as well as Calhnaoglu, Jose Mauri, and Gomez to injury. But all the injuries in the world won’t change the fact that he is in way over his head as a tactician.

No pressure or anything

This is a game that should not matter. It would be nice if it didn’t even have to be played, at least as far as the travel, fatigue, and possible injury factors are concerned. But Gattuso has a chance at partial redemption. Last time we played Rijeka, we nearly fumbled a two goal lead, but for the heroics of Cutrone. This time, it would be nice to win convincingly and boost the team’s morale. But that is never a guarantee with a team like Rijeka, or Benevento for that matter. At the end of the day, Milan’s fall from grace makes us perfect fodder for the bottom feeders.


This post inspired by the music of Oingo Boingo’s  “Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself)”


Europa League Group Stage
HNK Rijeka vs. AC Milan
Thursday, December 7 • 19:00 CET (1pm EST)
This match will be shown on Fox Sports channels and ESPN3 in the U.S.
  
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