Slavia Prague vs AC Milan: Preview and Prediction

AC Milan make the trip to the Czech capital for the second leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie against Slavia Prague on Thursday evening.

AC Milan lead 4-2 after a thrilling first leg win over Slavia Prague, swaying the tie decisively in their favour. But the tie is far from over thanks to Slavia’s courageous performance, which kept it somewhat alive.

It should have been a much bigger margin given that the Czech side were down to ten players for more than half the match and had all the running to do. Slavia followed it up with a 4-0 victory over FK Teplice on Sunday in the domestic league, where they currently sit only a point behind city rivals Sparta Prague at the top.

As they chase their first European quarter-final since 2020/21, the hosts need to push harder at home and showcase the form they exhibited during group stages, winning five of their six Europa Group stage games this season.

Milan, meanwhile, picked up a narrow 1-0 win over Empoli in Serie A over the weekend, making it three straight victories in all competitions. As a result, the visitors have moved up to second in the Serie A table but are a massive 16 points behind city rivals Inter Milan. That means progression in the Europa League is necessary to have any hopes of lifting silverware this season.

Team News & Tactics

Slavia Prague

El-Hadji Malick Diouf will be sidelined for Slavia in the second leg following his red card at San Siro in midweek on his European debut. The Senegalese teenager will be joined by Petr Sevcik and Christos Zafeiris (ankle) on the sidelines here, while David Pech and Sheriff Sinyan remain out long-term for the hosts.

Slavia could opt for a 4-5-1 system, with head coach Jindrich Trpisovsky dealing with several absentee issues in every department. Slavia goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek should take his place between the posts, and he should start behind ex-Torino man David Zima and Tomas Holes in the visitors’ central defensive unit. Stanislav Vlcek and captain Jan Boril will be the defensive widemen.

In midfield, Oscar Dorley acts as a screen, while Lukas Masopust and Lukas Provod support advancing wingers Ondrej Zmrzly and David Doudera. As for the attack, Mojmir Chytil, who has so far netted four goals in six Europa League group stage appearances, will lead the line for the visitors.

Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Stanek; Vlcek, Holes, Zima, Boril; Doudera, Masopust, Dorley, Provod, Zmrzly; Chytil

AC Milan

Despite boasting a two-goal lead in the tie from the first leg, Stefano Pioli is going to take the game very seriously given the Europa League is Milan’s only chance of silverware and could be what keeps Pioli in the job for another season, and a place in the quarter-finals is within touching distance.

Pioli is expected to recall Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud to the starting lineup, with the latter opening the floodgates last Thursday and netting his 15th Europa League goal. This means Luka Jovic and Noah Okafor are likely to drop out after starting in the league on Sunday.

Mike Maignan will remain between the sticks, with Davide Calabria at right-back and two of Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori, and Simon Kjaer lining up as the central defensive pairing, while Theo Hernandez will run up and down the flank off the left.

The midfield pivot of Ismael Bennacer and Tijjani Reijnders should remain, which means Yacine Adli will be left on the bench. Leao and Giroud will form the first-choice front four, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek as a workhorse motor in the No. 10 position and Christian Pulisic as the creator-in-chief from the right-wing.

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

Key Stats

  • Slavia’s last three Europa League games have produced at least four goals.
  • Slavia have netted at least two goals in their last six home matches in the Europa League.
  • There have been at least three goals scored in 11 of Milan’s last 12 away matches in all competitions.
  • Milan have scored at least two goals in eight of their last 12 matches in all competitions.
  • Slavia Prague have only won one of their last four games.

Player to Watch

Chrisitan Pulisic

Embed from Getty Images

Even without the goal, the USMNT international was probably the best AC Milan player on the pitch over the weekend, as the Rossoneri got the job done against Empoli with a 1-0 victory.

He was involved in almost everything that the Rossoneri created and had more than one dangerous cross into the box. He already has 10 Serie A goals this season, the best start to a top-five league campaign in his career. He will enter this match as Milan’s clutch difference-maker.


Slavia Prague 1-2 AC Milan

AC Milan games have involved plenty of goals lately, including in the frantic second-leg of their playoff round tie with French side Rennes, but this one does appear to be all but sealed after the first-leg when Slavia Prague went down to ten men early on owing to a red card for El-Hadji Malick Diouf.

Slavia Prague did well to net twice with ten men, but the attacking potency of this AC Milan frontline could yet again be to their detriment here. So, the Rossoneri should comfortably navigate this encounter.

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