LOSC can confirm their leadership of Europa League Group H as they play host to the Milan side they beat 3-0 in Italy on Matchday 3; OGC Nice can take a huge step towards qualification with a win over Group C leaders Slavia Prague at the Allianz Riviera.
UEFA Europa League, Matchday 4
Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
LOSC – AC Milan
– Kick-off at 18:55 CET (17:55 GMT)
Things are looking good for Group H leaders LOSC as they he’d into their second clash with the mighty Milan on Thursday night. Not only did Christophe Galtier’s men beat their Italian opponents 3-0 in Milan on Matchday 3, but they are coming off a resounding 4-0 win over Lorient in the league, with strike star Yusuf Yazici – who bagged a hat-trick in the win over Milan – striking twice while club record signing Jonathan David hit his first his new club.
What’s more, Milan superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out with an injury picked up in his two-goal star-turn against Napoli at the weekend, but Galtier isn’t about to take the match – in which a win would all but qualify Les Dogues for the knockout rounds – lightly.
Galtier: ‘Not get complacent’
“We will have to play in the same way, with the same application, the same concentration and the same generosity, with the desire not to give up too much ground. Milan are top of the table in Italy, and I saw their last match, away to Napoli. They have many strings to their bow,” said the LOSC boss. “We’ll have to stay the same. We’re on a high right now and that’s great. We know we’re capable of doing well against them. We have to rely on that and not get complacent.”
Fortunately, Galtier has a near-full strength sued to choose from and is, unsurprisingly, tipped to start Yazici alongside David in a 4-4-2 with the mercurial Joanathans – Ikone and Bamba – in the wide midfield roles.
LOSC: Maignan; Pied, Fonte, Botman, Bradaric; Ikone, Andre, Xeka, Bamba; David, Yazici
AC Milan: Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Tonali, Bennacer; Castillejo, Calhanoglu, Hauge; Rebic
UEFA Europa League, Matchday 4
Allianz Riviera, Nice
OGC Nice – Slavia Prague
– Kick-off at 21:00 CET (20:00 GMT)
Meanwhile Nice will be looking to bounce back from the raft of COVID-19 cases in their squad that saw the Ligue 1 Uber Eats Round 11 clash with derby rivals Marseille postponed.
Balancing the infected players’ physical preparation with the risk of placing too much strain on vital organs has hardly been the best way to prepare for what could prove a pivotal match in Les Aiglons’ European campaign – they could go level on points with leaders Slavia with a win or go bottom with a defeat, depending on the groups other result – but coach Patrick Vieira has faith in his men.
Vieira: ‘Not worried about my players’
“I know that the players, from a physical standpoint, won’t be 100% given the week they’ve just had,” Vieira explained. “On the other hand, we need to make up for that lack with determination, morale, with our desire to go out and get the win, because we know that’s what we need. I’m not worried about the state of my players. This morning, in the final training session before the match, I saw that they were focused, applied, and motivated by the idea of playing this very important match.”
Viaira will, however, have to do without main striker Kasper Dolberg, who is just short of fitness after he returned from national team duty with Denmark infected with COVID for a second time. In defence, on top of the long-term injury to talismanic captain Dante (ACL), left-back Hassane Kamara (thigh) is also unavailable.
OGC Nice: Benitez; Atal, Bambu, Nsoki, Lotomba; Claude-Maurice, Schneiderlin, Reine-Adélaïde; Lopes, Gouiri, Maolida
Slavia Prague: Kolar; Masopust, Zima, Kudela (c), Oscar Dorley; Sevcik, Traoré; Sima, Stanciu, Olayinka; Kuchta