AC Milan vs. PSV Eindhoven: Key Battles to Watch in Champions League Qualifier

Matteo BonettiContributor IAugust 27, 2013

EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 20:  Philippe Mexes of AC Milan in action during the UEFA Champions League Play-off First Leg match between PSV Eindhoven and AC Milan at PSV Stadion on August 20, 2013 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

After the mauling taken by Milan over the weekend at the hands of newly promoted Hellas Verona, a positive midweek result vs. PSV is mandatory.

The Rossoneri find themselves in the Champions League qualifiers, a somewhat unknown entity for them, after narrowly squeaking into the top three last season. Despite Milan having a better, more experienced side, no team in this competition can be taken lightly.

After the first match in Holland, it was clear that coach Massimiliano Allegri's men had a lot of work to do to get by a young Dutch side which seemed fearless throughout the course of the match.

The most worrying facet in Allegri's starting XI is their inability to handle set pieces, as they conceded the most goals from the air in Serie A last season. You can bet that lanky PSV striker Tim Matavz has perked his ears plenty at these statistics.

What PSV lacks in experience, they make up in pure unadulterated pace and energy. Their pressing in the first half was diabolical, and young superstars in the making like Adam Maher got a chance to showcase their skill at a European level.

The most important battle will be the one between PSV's frontline and Milan's inconsistent defense. The center back pairing of Philippe Mexes and Christian Zapata still give you the odd disappointment, and the fullbacks aren't in perfect working order either.

A pace merchant like Ignazio Abate is the perfect remedy for the counter-attacking speed of PSV, as he was able to somewhat contain the tricky Memphis Depay on the right wing.

Down the middle however, searing runs from Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Maher really gave the Milan outfit the most problems. Maher in particular was nuisance all game long, testing Christian Abbiati several times with long range efforts.

In the end, Milan's 1-1 aggregate against PSV means the visitors will have to do most of the attacking, as the Rossoneri would progress with a 0-0 result at the San Siro.