Having bagged three points at home against Austria Vienna in emphatic style on match-day five, AC Milan can now relax, as they’re uncatchable at the top of the pile in Group D. With 11 points to their name, the Italian outfit have already confirmed themselves as group winners. In contrast, Rijeka have it all to do if they’re to be playing in this competition after Christmas. Thursday’s hosts know that anything less than a win won’t do, and even then, they may fall short.
Considering they held a two-goal lead as the clock ticked 45 in Athens on match-day five, Rijeka will have been bitterly disappointed to have come away with just a point on that occasion. At the end of the day, it is that mishap that could prevent them from going through. With AEK unlikely to surrender their unbeaten record in Vienna, the Croatian outfit look to be heading out. Having said that, Matjaž Kek’s side are likely to have a real go on Thursday night, just as they did last time out. With an open, expansive game expected, ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ catches the eye. After all, neither one of this pair have been strangers to high-scoring games during this campaign.
Over the course of the first five UEL match-days, Rijeka have been one of the competitions’ great entertainers. If the Croatian side have been involved, there’s rarely been a dull moment. Kek’s men have both scored and conceded in each of their five group matches, while ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ has landed in all five too. The hosts have shown attacking intent at every turn, and while it hasn’t always worked, they’ve often been rewarded with goals going forward. It’s inevitable that Rijeka will get forward on this occasion, and you would have to fancy them to hurt an AC Milan back-line that almost definitely won’t be at full strength. Having said that, expecting the visitors not to profit on the break probably isn’t wise.
As they’ve already secured safe passage to the next phase, Milan are expected to make changes ahead of this fixture, but that doesn’t mean that their threat will be eroded completely. The visitors, much as they did at home against this Rijeka side, should enjoy plenty of luck going forward, but, as was also the case in the reverse fixture, they’re likely to get hurt too. Barring a pair of 0-0 draws against AEK, ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ has landed in each of Milan’s fixtures in Group D.
Though Milan are expected to rotate, they should still have a strong side out. Summer signing Andre Silva has featured prominently in this competition and, having missed out at the weekend, should be involved again. After his brace on match-day five, and with plenty of space likely to be afforded by an attacking home team, the Portuguese forward looks a good bet to score his seventh goal in Group D.
Quite simply, in a match where attack will be the order of the day from the hosts, goals are expected. The likely open nature of this contest should mean that the crowd in attendance at Stadion Kantrida see a high-scoring encounter. ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ gets the nod, but ‘AC Milan to Win & Both Teams to Score’ also stands out. With the pressure off for the visitors, coupled with the fact that Rijeka’s already poor defensive record is unlikely to be aided by the fact that they need to get forward, they’re fancied to have the quality to come out on top eventually.
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