Europa League • AC Milan-AC Sparta Prague: Pressing On

After a fiery clash with Roma on Monday that saw both the head referee and VAR referee suspended for one month for doing who knows what instead of refereeing, players and fans were left unsatisfied and unsettled with the 3-3 draw. They will host AC Sparta Prague at the San Siro on Thursday in hopes of getting the result they deserved. Amidst the steadily climbing cases of COVID-19 and the neverending schedule of matches, Milan are pressing on.

Pressing forward

Sparta Prague sit at the top of the Czech First League by just two points. Last week, they had the misfortune to meet Lille in the Europa League, a demoralizing 4-1 loss to the French team, with the Czech team playing much of the match on ten men. With no league matches this past weekend, they will travel to the San Siro rested and regrouped to face Milan. For their match last week, coach Václav Kotal lined up: Heca; Sacek, Krejci, Lischka, Hanousek; Travnik, Pavelka; Vindheim, Dockal, Moberg-Karlsson; and Julis. Krejci was the unfortunate recipient of the red card, so will be suspended for our match. Kotal will also be missing Lucas Stetina, David Hancko, Dominik Plechaty, and Ondrej Celustka to injury.

Hoping to keep them at bay

Milan have a giant piece missing for this match in our 6'5" (1.96m) goalkeeper. One would think that our 6'6" Romanian second keeper could possibly fill his shoes for a match or two, but as we saw on Monday, that is unlikely to happen. Gigio Donnarumma, Hauge, and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Roma match on Monday, and are at home in isolation, as is Gabbia still after testing positive over the international break. 

Rebic is back in training, but still doubtful for this match. The timing was a shame for Hauge, who might have gotten some time while Rebic was out, and also having scored his first goal for Milan last week. Musacchio is still out from his long term injury, but will reportedly be back soon. Pioli will need to continue rotating the squad to keep everyone healthy, but will obviously also need to rely on many of our starters to ensure the win.

He will be missed

After the tragic display of refereeing on Monday, Milan are probably mostly anticipating a match where the referee does not steal the show. But also perhaps playing a Europa League match in which they don't concede a goal, something they haven't done since the first qualifying round. Sparta Prague will probably want to end on 11 men, but will also be interested in getting three points in order to have a fighting chance of getting through the group stage.

Despite desperately missing Gigio and continuing to play as so many COVID-positive cases arise, Milan have to play at 100%, or whatever they have left in the tank after playing three matches in eight days' time. Sparta Prague will not go down without a fight, and so it will be up to Milan to keep pressing on.

This post inspired by the music of Cake's "The Distance"

Europa League Group Stage
AC Milan vs. AC Sparta Prague
Thursday, October 29 • 18:55 CET (1:55pm EDT)*
This match can be streamed LIVE on CBS All Access in the U.S. 
*note the time difference as Europe changed from Daylight Savings time on Sunday

Europa League • AC Milan-AC Sparta Prague: Pressing On Europa League • AC Milan-AC Sparta Prague: Pressing On Reviewed by Elaine on 4:52 AM Rating: 5
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