Europa League return leg
As the resurgent ‘Rossoneri’ plan to announce their return to the big stage, Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to face Manchester United in AC Milan’s Europa League clash with the English giants on Thursday.
After announcing his return to international football after nearly five years away on Tuesday, the Swede should be in high spirits, and he appears to be leading the chase to meet his old club in the second leg of their last-16 tie at the San Siro.
The tie is level at 1-1, with Milan holding a narrow advantage thanks to Simon Kjaer’s stoppage-time away goal in the first leg last week at Old Trafford.
The experienced striker practised with the rest of the AC Milan squad on Tuesday, according to Italian reports, and should be finally available since he left his team’s 2-1 win at Roma with a thigh problem at the end of February.
With 14 goals in 14 league matches, the Swede was a key reason for Milan’s long-term dominance in Serie A, and his return to United for the first leg had been eagerly awaited before he sustained his injury.
After a superb performance in Old Trafford last week, coach Stefano Pioli knows he doesn’t need Ibrahimovic to beat United, and his side might still begin playing with their legend on the bench.
Milan, on the other hand, will need to improve on a poor recent record at the San Siro, which has led to them falling nine points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan after being in the first place just over a month ago.
The 1-0 loss to Napoli on Sunday was their fourth straight loss at the San Siro, following draws against Udinese and Red Star Belgrade and a 3-0 derby defeat to Inter.
Second-placed Milan is still looking over their shoulders at a series of competitors for a spot in the Champions League in 2021, a competition in which the seven-time European winners have not competed since 2014.