Europa League Round of 16 • SK Slavia Praha-AC Milan Preview: All On the Line

Milan travel to Prague on Thursday in an attempt to finish what they started. However, they will be in hostile territory, facing a tough team who gave them more than they expected with only 10 men last week. Despite scoring as many goals on Slavia Praha last week in their 4-2 win as the Czech side had conceded in their entire Europa League Group Stage, Milan also conceded two impressive goals while the visitors were down a man. So how does this one play out? Can Milan overcome themselves and assert their economic and skilled advantages? Or will the home team demonstrate that heart and desire mean more than big names and paychecks? Only one team can progress, so the outcome of Thursday's match will be decisive with it all on the line.

Ready to battle to the end for qualification to the next round.

After Thursday's impressive display at San Siro, Slavia Praha went home and took out their aggressions on the ninth place team in the Czech First League, Teplice, with a 4-0 win. Despite the difference in scorelines, it seemed (at least from the highlights,) that they did not dominate their opponents as much in their overall performance. But, as we found out last week, Slavia love to score amazing goals from distance, and they were able to do that four times on Sunday. Which is probably why they are second in the league, just a point behind their cross city rivals. 

For that match, Trpišovský lined up: Staněk; Diouf, Zima, Ogbu, Vlček; Dorley, Masopust; Wallem, Jurečka, Jurásek; and Van Buren. Trpišovský was able to rest several of the key players from last week's match, čith just a few of them getting some minutes as substitutes in this match. He will still be missing a couple of players to injury from his Europa League squad,  Peter Ševčik and Christos Zafeiris. Additionally, obviously Diouf will be suspended after his straight red last week.

Only golazzos scored here.

Pioli was able to rest a few players as well on Sunday, primarily due to the fact that Leão and Florenzi were suspended. He rested Giroud for most of the match, as well as Adli. He also rotated his defense, starting Tomori and Thiaw and completely resting Kjaer and Gabbia, and giving Kalulu some needed minutes to get him back into action. So he will have some rested players as well as some options in defense. He will still be missing just one player from his Europa League Squad to injury, Pobega, and Florenzi will also be suspended for this one due to card accumulation (apparently, he wanted the whole week of his birthday off.)

In contrast, however, despite the 1-0 scoreline, Milan did control their match vs. Empoli with a convincing performance, even missing some key players. And, they moved to second in the table as well, overtaking a lethargic Juventus. This is positive, because Milan's mentality and focus tend to be their own worst enemy, and if they can take that same mindset with them on Thursday, they should have no problem maintaining at least their two goal lead on aggregate, whether Slavia Prague play on 11 men, 10 men, or even pull a Lazio and end on eight men. 

Unity, focus, and quality can send Milan through...

With both Lazio and Napoli bowing out of the Champions League already this week, Serie A's potential fifth Champions League spot is now in the hands of teams like Milan, who actually have European pedigree, so we need to get as deep as possible in this competition to help give ourselves the best opportunities next year as well. Even though we all know that Serie A is both archaic and also corrupt, the more teams we have in Champions League next year, the greater our chances are that someone will embezzle the money or somehow shoot Serie A in the foot again... okay, Serie A is bleak, but Milan have some hope, and we can prove that we deserve to advance on Thursday, when it is all on the line.

This post inspired by the music of Muse's "Map of the Problematique"

Our next match is 
SK Slavia Praha vs. AC Milan
Thursday, March 14 • 18:45 CET (1:45pm EDT*)
*note the time difference due to Daylight Savings Time in the U.S.
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Europa League provider elsewhere*
(*one that does not also sponsor Inter's kits)

Europa League Round of 16 • SK Slavia Praha-AC Milan Preview: All On the Line Europa League Round of 16 • SK Slavia Praha-AC Milan Preview: All On the Line Reviewed by Elaine on 7:00 AM Rating: 5
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