PSV face AC Milan in a Champions League preliminary round match-up to decide who makes it through to the group stages of Europe’s elite competition, and a tight game is expected between two sides that are no stranger to high profile continental clashes.
Both sides have won the Champions League before, PSV winning the trophy in 1988 while AC Milan have lifted the European Cup seven times, most recently in 2007. The sides last met in European competition at the semi-final stage in 2005, when an Massimo Ambrosini goal sent the Rossoneri through to the Champions League final.
Despite losing star players like Kevin Strootman and Dries Mertens, PSV have built their team around a youth philosophy managed by former PSV and Barcelona star Philip Cocu.
EXCEPTED PSV XI (4-3-3)
Zoet; Arias, Bruma, Rekik, Willems; Wijnaldum, Hiljemark, Maher; Jozefzoon, Locadia, Depay.
EXCEPTED MILAN XI (4-3-1-2)
Abbiati, Abate, Zapata, Silvestre, Constant, De Jong, Montolivo, Poli, Boateng, El Shaarawy, Balotelli.
Player to watch: Stephan El Shaarawy
While all eyes will be on Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy comes off a sharp pre-season and will look to start the 2013-14 season in the same manner he began the 2012-13 one. Pacy, hard-working with excellent technique and flair, “Il Faraone” could benefit from Balotelli attracting defensive attention and become Milan’s matchwinner on Tuesday.
Prediction: PSV 1-2 AC MILAN
Milan should get a scare from PSV who will be sharper and fitter due to already starting the Eredivisie season three weeks ago, while Massimiliano Allegri’s side may still be a little rusty. However, experience and quality should show through, and Milan are expected to have too much for their largely inexperienced opponents.
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