Group D winners AC Milan travel to Croatia on Thursday to face bottom side Rijeka in the UEFA Europa League in a match with very little at stake.
Stadion HNK Rijeka, Reka, Croatia (Hrvatska) 07 Dec 2017 6:00 pm (GMT)
Key Stat: Milan are unbeaten with seven wins and two draws in Europe this season.
Expert Verdict: It's a new day in Milan under the bulldog Gennaro Gattuso, and even with neither of these sides' hopes riding on this match, you get the feeling that he and the players that take to the pitch will be taking this match quite seriously. Because of that, look for Milan to roll on toward a win in Croatia.
Matjaz Kek will be without center midfielder Josip Misic due to a suspension for this match.
Rijeka's valiant effort to stay alive in the tournament last month at AEK was led by Austrian winger Alexander Gorgon. The 25 year old scored twice for them, to give them a seemingly commanding two goal lead, but it wasn't enough in the end. Those were his first goals of the competition, and he would love to add more against an opponent like Milan.
Rijeka have a loss, two wins, and two draws in their last five matches:
1-2 home loss vs Hajduk Split
1-2 win at Cibalia
2-2 draw at AEK Athens (UEL)
0-0 home draw vs Inter Zapresic
0-3 win at Gorica (Cup)
Defenders:Vesovic, Elez, Zuparic, Zuta
Midfielders:Males, Bradaric, Pavicic
Forwards:Acosty, Gorgon, Gavranovic
Gennaro Gattuso appears to have just one injury in the form of right back Andrea Conti ahead of this match. We expect him to rotate fairly well here as they have already won top spot and could use the rest ahead of next weekend.
It's been a very strange time since Andre Silva's move to Milan. The Portuguese striker has gotten few chances to play, and when he has gotten them it has been to wild success in this competition. He has eight goals in the UEL so far, and while it's not been the best of teams he's been playing against, the record still speaks for itself. He'd love to carve out a place for himself in the regular team ahead of the World Cup, and it could start right here.
Milan have two draws, two wins, and a loss in their last five matches:
2-2 draw at Benevento
0-0 home draw vs Torino
5-1 home win vs Austria Vienna (UEL)
2-1 loss at Napoli
0-2 win at Sassuolo
Defenders:Zapata, Romagnoli, Musacchio
Midfielders:Abate, Biglia, Calhanoglu, Antonelli
Forwards:Silva, Cutrone, Locatelli
Milan and Rijeka's meeting last September was the first time these two sides met, and it saw Milan win out 3-2 at home in Italy. Andre Silva and Mateo Musacchio had scored to give them a healthy lead, but late goals from Boadu Acosty and Josip Elez looked to have earned a point for the Croatians before Patrick Cutrone's ultra late winner.
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Rijeka are at 12/5 to win, a draw is at 23/10, and an AC Milan win is at 23/20.
This particular match is very easy to sort out. The home side, Rijeka, could- with a victory- go level with both Austria Vienna and AEK Athens. But even if they do end up on seven points, the Croatians would be going out due to not having a good head to head with either of those two teams.
AC Milan, meanwhile, have absolutely no worries for this match. They are group winners and will not have much to play for in this match, other than pride.
Rijeka played in three UCL qualification rounds, and they split those results with a win, a draw, and a loss at home. In the Europa League, they have lost both of their home matches so far. Overall this season, they have seven wins, two draws, and five losses this season at home. Milan, on the other hand, came through two qualification rounds to get here. They won both away legs, and they have four points away from home in the group so far. Overall, they have six wins, two draws, and four losses away from home.
Neither side will be particularly stretched ahead of this match, so neither team will have the fitness edge over the other, though Rijeka will have an extra day's rest.
A no for both teams to score is set at 11/10 via Ladbrokes.
Even with little to play for on paper, AC Milan will be energized and roaring to go play under their new boss. The will to make a lasting impression on him will be large, and it will lead them to a comfortable victory.