AC Milan will open their Europa League campaign against Dudelange on Thursday night, and Gennaro Gattuso is being tipped to make plenty of changes.
The Italian tactician will undoubtedly have to rotate his squad this season in order to compete on multiple fronts, and so this could be a perfect opportunity to rest key players.
Milan certainly won’t take their opponents lightly though as they’ll be desperate to start with a confidence-boosting win, but as seen in the touted line-up below, Gattuso could make up to nine changes to the side that faced Cagliari in Serie A on Sunday night.
Summer signings Pepe Reina, Mattia Caldara, Diego Laxalt, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Samu Castillejo are all reportedly set to feature in the starting XI, joined by Ignazio Abate, captain Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Bertolacci, Jose Mauri, Gonzalo Higuain and Fabio Borini.
There is an argument to suggest that Gattuso would have preferred to have rested Higuain, but with second choice striker Patrick Cutrone out with an injury, the Argentine international will be forced to feature and lead the line.
Time will tell if there’s enough sharpness in those players to get the three points for Milan as many haven’t featured this season, but with the game against Atalanta to prepare for on Sunday too, Gattuso surely has no option but to ring the changes to his line-up.
Milan fell at the last-16 stage in the Europa League last season, losing out to Arsenal over two legs. While they’ll be pushing to break into the top four in Serie A this year to return to the Champions League, this competition is ultimately still another path back to Europe’s top table.
With that in mind, Gattuso is clearly expected to field a strong XI still, with plenty of experience and quality in the players noted below with Higuain hoping to build on breaking his Milan duck at the weekend.
Probable Milan XI: Reina; Abate, Caldara, Romagnoli, Laxalt; Bertolacci, Mauri, Bakayoko; Castillejo, Higuain, Borini. (Via Calciomercato.com)