By 90Min
October 03, 2018

When A.C. Milan and Olympiacos were drawn in the same Europa League group, it promised to be one of the most scintillating fixtures of the group stages. 

Both sides are domestic giants of their respective leagues, with Olympiacos holding the record number of Super League triumphs, having won a staggering 44 titles. Whilst their opponents have struggled to replicate their former glory in recent years, they're a side on the up and still carry the same prestige having won seven Champions League titles. 

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If either side can go all the way, the Europa League represents a chance for both teams to return to the dizzying heights of the Champions League, a place where both sets of fans believe their clubs belong. 


Recent Form

Perhaps making this fixture all the more intriguing is the fact that both sides go into the game in mixed form. Milan's last three games have produced one emphatic 4-1 victory against Sassuolo and two laboured draws against Atalanta and Empoli. I Rossoneri have not struggled to score goals this season, having scored nine times in the last five games. 

However, defensively, the Italian giants are more suspect. In the seven games that Gennaro Gattuso's side have played this season they have managed just one clean sheet, which came against Dudelange in their previous Europa League match. 

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Olympiacos, on the other hand, are struggling with the opposite problem. Whilst they have conceded only two goals in their last five fixtures, they have mustered up just four goals in these games. 

A.C. Milan Last Five Games: WDDWD

Olympiacos Last Five Games: LWWDW

Both clubs' indifferent form, in tandem with this being the first time these two sides have faced each other competitively, means that this will be a tough game to predict. 


Key Battles


Gonzalo Higuaín vs. Meriah & Vuković

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Since Higuaín's two-year loan move from Juventus to A.C. Milan was completed in the summer, the Argentine has continued his prolific scoring. In just five appearances for his new club, the Argentinian striker has scored three times and is Milan's focal point in the attack. 

Olympiacos' centre-back partnership, Yassine Meriah and Jagoš Vuković will likely be the two tasked with trying to shut down Higuaín. The Greek side have been defensively resolute so far this season, having conceded just five goals in eleven games. 

However, Higuaín is accustomed with playing and scoring against the sturdiest defences in the world so Olympiacos will have to keep tabs on the former Juventus striker for the entirety of the match. 

Ahmed Hassan vs. A.C. Milan's Defence

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With Olympiacos being the away side, it is expected that the Greek side will look to sit back and hit A.C. Milan on the counter attack. This means that their lone striker, Ahmed Hassan, will at times be isolated against Milan's defence and be required to hold the ball up whilst his teammates get up the pitch. 

However, this will be a daunting task for the Egyptian forward, as he will be coming up against a physical defensive partnership in Alessio Romagnoli and Mateo Musacchio. 

Hassan will likely get short change from Milan's defence. However, if he can make the ball stick when it reaches him then it increases Olympiacos' chances of a result two-fold. 


Team News


A.C. Milan go into this European fixture with four injury concerns. Andrea Conti (knee), Ivan Strinic (heart condition) and Riccardo Montolivo (unknown injury) are all out for the clash against Olympiacos. Davide Calabria has been struggling with muscular problems, and is also likely to be unavailable for the Europa League fixture.

Olympiacos go into this game unburdened by any injury concerns. However, after his red card against Real Betis in the last Europa League match, left-back Kostas Tsimikas is suspended for Thursday's game. 


Predicted Lineups


A.C. Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodríguez; Kessié, Biglia, Bonaventura; Çalhanoglu, Higuaín, Suso


Olympiacos (4-2-3-1): Gianniotis; Elabdellaoui, Meriah, Vuković, Torosidis; Camara, Bouchalakis; Podence, Fortounis, Fetfatzidis; Hassan


Prediction

Milan have started the season relatively poorly under Gattuso, considering the quality of their squad. Olympiacos have started their respective season better, but are really struggling to find the back of the net.

With this in mind, it's shaping up to be a close encounter and it seems likely that it will be low scoring. However, with the quality that Milan possess across the pitch, particularly in the final third, a victory is to be expected for Gattuso's side.

Having the home advantage, Milan will likely dominate the ball and dictate the tempo of the game, meaning that Olympiacos will have to defend diligently throughout. However, Higuaín's ability to find space inside the box will likely prove decisive, and there's a good chance his form will end up deciding the match.

Predicted Scoreline: A.C. Milan 2-0 Olympiacos


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