Stade Rennais vs AC Milan: Preview and Prediction

AC Milan have one foot in the next round as they head to France to face Stade Rennais on Thursday night.

AC Milan will travel to Roazhon Park as heavy favourites ahead of their UEFA Europa League knockout playoffs second leg against Stade Rennais on Thursday night.

The Rossoneri have been inconsistent this season but put on a spectacular performance at the San Siro last week. Strikes from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao gave Milan a three-goal cushion to defend.

With nothing to lose, Rennes have a right go at Milan this time around. Given that the Rossoneri fell to Monza at the weekend, the home side will have enough confidence to have a proper go. Stefano Pioli will hope that his side will not get the occasion to get to them.

Miles off the pace in Serie A and already knocked out of the Coppa Italia, the Europa League represents Milan’s best shot at securing silverware this season. Milan have never won the competition in their illustrious history, and there is no better time than now to break that duck.

Rennes have their work cut out and should be vulnerable to the Milan counter-attack. The home crowd should get behind them as they have little option but to take the game to the Rossoneri on the night.

Les Rouge et Noirs are a force to contend with on their day but they now face an uphill task, even if the clash is at home. An early goal should keep hope alive and perhaps even catch Milan off guard. Whoever scores first could very well dictate the pace of the match on the night. The Hard Tackle looks closer at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Stade Rennais

The home side will be without several key names in a clash where they cannot afford to start on the back foot. Les Rouge Et Noir prepared for the clash with a solid 3-1 win over Clermont Foot at the weekend in Ligue 1.

Only Liverpool, Bayer Leverkusen, and AEK Athens have attempted more shots than Rennes in the Europa League this season. Rennes will be keen to lay siege to the Milan goal and open the scoring. Doing so will get the crowd going and perhaps even plant the seeds of doubt in Milan’s mind.

Julien Stephan made several changes to his playing XI at the weekend but will bring back the familiar names on the night. However, the trio of Fabian Rieder, Arnaud Kalimuendo and Enzo Le Fee should miss out due to injuries.

The 4-4-2 formation appears to be the way forward on the night for Rennes with Steve Mandanda starting as the last line of defence. He should be protected by the defensive quartet of Guela Doue, Warmed Omari, Arthur Theate, and Adrien Truffert.

The duo of Desire Doue and Benjamin Bourigeaud should provide the width down the wings while Azor Matusiwa and Baptiste Santamaria will make up the numbers in the middle. Martin Terrier and Amine Gouiri should start up front. The Milan defence was shaky at the weekend and Terrier, who scored twice against Clermont Foot should fancy his chances of catching them off guard.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Mandanda; Guela Doue, Omari, Theate, Truffert; Bourigeaud, Matusiwa, Santamaria, Desire Doue; Gouiri, Terrier

Stade Rennais vs AC Milan: Preview and Prediction.

AC Milan

Stefano Pioli and Co welcomed back Malick Thiaw at the weekend. But the defender is yet to be match-fit and it shows. Given that they cannot afford to give Rennes a fast start, the German defender is expected to drop to the bench.

Star winger Rafael Leao was benched against Monza thanks to a calf issue but is back in training. While it is debatable if he will start against Rennes, a spot on the bench is to be expected. Luka Jovic was sent off at the weekend and it makes sense for Milan to start him on the night, giving Olivier Giroud some much-needed rest.

The trio of Pierre Kalulu, Davide Calabria and Fikayo Tomori are still out, giving Pioli a headache when it comes to his backline options. Milan fielded a much-changed side against Monza with disastrous results but are expected to bring back the big names for the trip to France.

Milan are expected to line up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Mike Maignan should start in goal behind the back four of Alessandro Florenzi, Simon Kjaer, Matteo Gabbia, and Theo Hernandez. Yacine Adli and Tijjani Reijnders should form the double pivot, behind the attacking trio of Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao.

Olivier Giroud should get the nod over Luka Jovic and will hope to show his clinical best in the box. Jovic is expected to get a run-in in the second half, especially if the tie is in the bag. Preserving Giroud for he upcoming Serie A game is now a priority thanks to Jovic’s hotheadedness.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Florenzi, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Reijnders, Adli; Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Leao; Giroud

Stade Rennais vs AC Milan: Preview and Prediction.

Key Stats

  • This is the second-ever competitive clash between AC Milan and Stade Rennais, with the first leg being the first.
  • Neither AC Milan nor Stade Rennais have won the UEFA Europa League in their history.
  • AC Milan have progressed to the next round 39 times from 45 previous European ties after winning at home in the first leg.
  • Victory on the night will see ACV Milan win on French soil for the first time since 2010.

Player to Watch

Olivier Giroud

Embed from Getty Images

Luka Jovic’s performance at Monza outlines the importance of Olivier Giroud to Stefano Pioli and AC Milan. The French veteran will return to his homeland and will hope to make a difference for his side.

Giroud is expected to start the game but should be arrested in the second half for Jovic. At 37 years and 145 days, he could become the fourth-oldest goalscorer in the competition’s history should he find the back of the net on the night. Having won the competition with Chelsea in the past, he will be keen to repeat that feat with the Rossoneri.


Stade Rennais 2-2 AC Milan

Milan are there for the taking but Rennes’ missing players will leave them struggling to impress. With the home side forced to go on the attack following a three-goal deficit, Milan could find openings on the counter. Goals should once again be on the agenda in a match that should be action-packed for neutrals.

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