AC Milan face Rio Ave in the qualification play off this evening. Milan are 90 minutes away from securing a place in the group stages of the Europa League which means an additional 15 million euros in revenue for the club. Milan have not played in Europe for a year and this would be a key step to get back to the Champions League.
Venue: Estadio Dos Arcos
Rio Ave: L, W, D, W, D
Milan: W, W, W, W, W
Borac 0 - 2 Rio Ave
Besiktas 1 - 1 Rio Ave (5-4 pen)
Shamrock Rovers 0 - 3 Milan
Milan 3 - 2 FK Bodo/Glimt
Players to Watch
Lucas Piazon vs Hakan Calhanoglu
Former Chelsea wonder kid Piazon plays for Rio Ave and is a core part of the Portuguese side's attack. He is the facilitator who keeps the ball moving. Kessie and Bennacer will need to shut him down early to dominate the game. Calhanoglu will similarly have a key role is opening up the opponents on the opposite end of the pitch. Calhanoglu will be expected to play a leading role as with the past fixture in the UEL.
Milan will rely on their Primavera players who have only recently been promoted to the first team. Lorenzo Colombo will likely start at striker again as Ibrahimovic and Rebci are out. There is a possibility of Daniel Maldini starting instead. Either way Milan will rely on their youth to get through to the group stages of the Europa League. This is a key opportunity for the duo to leave an impression and convince Stefano Pioli to give them more playing time when the full squad is back.
The key battle in this game will be to break through Rio Ave defence who have kept two clean sheets in four games this season and only conceded one goal in each of the other two games. They have kept the games tidy as the centre backs sit deep and they get numbers back to hold the line. Milan will struggle to break them down but finding gaps between Santos and Borenkovic will be critical to securing a win.
Rio Ave 0 - 2 Milan