Milan’s season in the balance before the Spurs award

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Milan’s season in the balance before the Spurs award


AC Milan enters Tottenham Hotspur with a clean sheet to defend and they are back on balance after the defeat at the weekend.

Stefano Pioli’s side are a goal ahead heading into Wednesday’s last 16, second leg encounter in London, Brahim Diaz’s goal separating the two sides in the first leg bad at San Siro.

The seven-time European champions were very successful in their 2-1 defeat at Fiorentina, a mid-table team that before Saturday had not beaten anyone in the top half of Serie A. in this season.

That defeat, and Roma’s win over Juventus on Sunday, left Milan outside of Italy’s top four on goal difference and again with a strong defense that has suddenly been punctured.

Pioli insisted that his players were not distracted by the importance of the game on Wednesday but that they were a shadow of the team that beat Atalanta at the weekend.

Milan went into Saturday’s game on a four-game winning streak – including the first leg against Spurs – in which they failed to score a single goal.

But the restoration of the three-man defense carried out by Pioli after a tragic accident in January that killed their defense of the champions of the league fell apart in Florence, especially Fikayo Tomori in a dangerous night.

Pioli said on Saturday that he “more or less has no idea who will play” and that the man will be brought back. fielding Rafael Leao after being suspended for Saturday’s game.

Portugal’s Leao was not the same player as he was before the World Cup but his presence will further threaten the toothless attack at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Milan have scored more than one goal in their last nine games, one of which was a 5-2 humiliation at home at the hands of lowly Sassuolo, and Leao is crucial in a new system that has closed the gaps but creativity is also discouraged.

In the absence of Ante Rebic and summer signing Charles De Ketelaere doing very little, the Belgian attacker De Ketelaere is a real problem for Pioli after a terrible first season in Italy which saw the more yellow cards than goals or assists.

De Ketelaere has the support of Leao, whose power of prediction was shown to be weak when he wrote on Instagram on Saturday “Cdk will score today, u see here first”.

The 21-year-old will almost certainly return to the bench in London as Milan look to make this year’s Champions League their best since 2012, when they were beaten in the last eight by then European champions Barcelona.

They will have to maintain the momentum that gave them the advantage in the first leg if they are to stay in a tournament where they have won more than any other club apart from Real Madrid.


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