International Champions Cup: Tottenham vs AC Milan – Lineups, Preview & Prediction
Tottenham round off their ICC campaign with their final fixture against Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan.
01:30 BST, Wednesday 1st August, U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, MN, USA)
Tottenham’s pre-season campaign comes to end stateside when they face AC Milan in Minneapolis. The Lilywhites have won once in their two fixtures – losing the other to Barcelona on penalties – but it’s been a campaign shrouded in transfer stress and thwarted by injury concern as the issues continue to mount on the sidelines.
For Milan, however, they held their own against a lacklustre Manchester United before facing Tottenham and Barcelona.
Despite speculation linking Antonio Conte with the Milan job, Gennaro Gattuso is continuing his preparation in the United States, though rumours, too, of a Leonardo Bonucci exit threatens to undermine this.
Last Time Out
Barcelona 2-2 Tottenham (Barcelona win 5-3 on penalties) [International Champions Cup]
The Lilywhites were courageous in their attempts to battle back from a two-goal deficit and draw level, but their efforts let them down when it came to the penalty shootout as Barcelona went on to win 5-3.
Munir headed home the Spanish champions’ first, before new signing Arthur made it 2-0 after half an hour from the edge of the area.
Christian Eriksen was the player attempting to make things happen for Spurs, and hit the woodwork from a free kick, but it was his parried shot that Son Heung-min converted in the 74th minute.
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou then leveled the scores after pouncing on some defensive confusion in the box. But Spurs couldn’t carry their momentum into the shootout as Barcelona scored all five of their spot kicks.
AC Milan 1-1 Manchester United (United win 9-8 on penalties) [International Champions Cup]
The Red Devils needed 26 penalties to separate themselves from AC Milan, but Milan ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline after an eventual 9-8 loss to Manchester United.
Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring, but Suso equalized three minutes later as United failed to hold onto their lead.
The game went straight to penalties after 90 minutes and Ander Herrera – on the second rotation – scored the decisive spot kick as Franck Kessie was unable to respond.
Mauricio Pochettino has more injury concerns in the center of midfield as Victor Wanyama has been sent home with a recurrence of the knee injury that kept him out last season. Moussa Sissoko is also suffering from a hamstring problem.
This means that Luke Amos will retain his spot in the two-man midfielder, with Oliver Skipp or Christian Eriksen perhaps joining him as seven central midfielders are unavailable. Pochettino is hopeful Erik Lamela will be available after a minor muscle scare.
AC Milan Lineup
After playing the full 90 minutes against United and failing to have too much of an impact, Hakan Calhanoglu could make way for Fabio Borini.
Patrick Cutrone could also be replaced with Andre Silva, with the Portuguese in need of match fitness as he was not a key feature of Portugal’s World Cup campaign.
Key Battle: Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham) vs Suso (AC Milan)
With Kieran Trippier likely to sit out the start of the season, Serge Aurier will start on the right flank, but Pochettino, too, has this problem with centre back Jan Vertonghen – due to his World Cup involvement – whilst Toby Alderweireld’s future is as of yet unresolved.
Ben Davies, therefore, has been converted into a makeshift centre back – something he’s done before for both club and country – to cover the vacancy, and young fullback Kyle Walker-Peters has been drafted in to cover the left.
Walker-Peters started the first and last games of last season’s Premier League and excelled against both Newcastle and Leicester, respectively. Hence, he could well be included against Newcastle once more given his continued participation in the ICC.
Having looked competent so far on the left, he will face a big test in Milan’s Suso, the goal scorer against Manchester United in the previous game and creator of 16 goals (six goals, ten assists) in the 2017/18 Serie A.
The bad kind of headache
Pochettino has a selection headache ahead of their final ICC match, and not the good kind. With Wanyama on his way back to north London and Sissoko also suffering from injury, the Argentine now has seven central midfielders either injured or unavailable for this fixture.
It’s not just against Milan where this becomes a problem, however, as it leaves Tottenham short of options ahead of their Premier League opener against Newcastle United.
Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele have not yet rejoined training after the World Cup, whilst Harry Winks is injured, too. It likely means the Eriksen experiment will continue, either in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, with the start of the season in the back of Pochettino’s mind.
The season approaches…
With the Premier League season starting in 11 days – and Serie A beginning the following week – managers Pochettino and Gattuso will have one eye on their domestic campaigns with their team selection in this friendly.
It’s no longer a time for youthful experimentation, rather one to iron out final kinks, continue to build fitness of key players and set in motion the plans that will form the start of their campaigns.
Tottenham will struggle to do so, however, given nine of their first team squad made the World Cup semi-finals and are, thus, not in the United States.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 AC Milan
A difficult fixture to call given Tottenham’s injury struggles, but they’ve not been outplayed by either Roma or a weakened Barcelona so a draw is a fair prediction in their final ICC match.
This is more about resolving issues and building fitness than it is the result, though it’s useful to continue to create momentum before the new season.
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