Written By Onyeka Daniel
Today at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, AC Milan will host English Premier League side, Newcastle United in the first game of the group stage of this season’s UCL with both teams heading into this game in search of some sort of redemption.
For Milan, they’re still smarting the heavy defeat suffered against their city rivals at the weekend and anything short of a victory could further damage their season that started so well with 3 straight wins before the international break.
The seven-time European champions are in a tricky group alongside PSG and Borussia Dortmund, so they’ll look to use the positive experience of last term’s run to the semi-finals as inspiration.
Ahead of their first meeting with Newcastle, they don’t have an inspiring recent record against English clubs, winning just one of their last 11 matches, and that victory was in the round of 16 against Tottenham at this same stadium in February.
For Newcastle United, after securing a return back to UCL football after a long absence, the Magpies haven’t started the new season in a convincing manner, like they did last season but they were able to secure a hard fought win over the weekend.
For Italian midfielder, Sandro Tonali, it will be a return to a stadium that he has called home in the last few seasons before his big money move to England and he has been pretty much impressive for them.
Of course, he could do little to help them avoid defeat in their game against Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton, but he was rested for the win over Brentford after picking up a knock during the international break, but he should be returning to the starting lineup for this encounter.
For Eddie Howe, this is a chance to make a name for himself in the European scene after guiding the club to a top four finish last season, but the hurdle can’t be harder than it is right now as they’re placed in the toughest group of this season’s UCL group stage.
Style Of Play
Both managers, Stefano Pioli and Eddie Howe like to play the 4-3-3 formation and they’re expected to stick to it for this game. For Pioli, the wing is of utmost importance with a defensive midfielder and two central midfielders in support of a lone striker, Olivier Giroud.
We could see Nigerian forward, Samuel Chukwueze getting the nod ahead of Christian Pulisic, the only likely change to the lineup that played against Inter while Fikayo Tomori will regain his place in defense after missing the derby through suspension.
For Newcastle, they’ve more strength down the middle and will look to use it to greater advantage while trying to prevent much movement down the wings by doubling up on the opponent when they’re attacking.
For Milan, they’ve 11 wins, 1 draws and 8 losses in their last 20 games played across all competitions. They had won their 5 previous matches before the heavy defeat to Inter Milan at the weekend. For Newcastle, they’ve 11 wins, 5 draws and 5 losses. Prior to their 1-0 win over Brentford at the weekend, they’ve lost their 3 previous matches, and will be keen to get some sort of momentum going with this game.
Head To Head
This is the first match between the two teams as Newcastle United make their debut in the UCL after a long absence.
Players To Watch
The Rossoneri will be looking to Rafael Leao and Christian Pulisic for inspiration while the Magpies will hope that Alexander Isak can have a fruitful outing upfront with support from Bruno Guimaraes and the other midfielders, including Tonali, if he can get to start at his former home ground and against his former teammates.
AC Milan possible starting lineup: Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Hernandez; Pobega, Krunic, Loftus-Cheek; Chukwueze, Giroud, Leao
Newcastle United possible starting lineup: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Longstaff, Tonali, Guimaraes; Gordon, Isak, Barnes
Injuries And Suspensions
The home side will be without Pierre Kalulu, Ismael Bennacer and Mattia Caldara through injury. For the away side, they will be able to count on their summer signing, Sandro Tonali after he was rested for their weekend game, but will be without Joe Willock and E. Krafth, while Joelinton remains in doubt.
Expect a low scoring match that might probably end in a draw or a slight win for the home side who could bank on their experience to grab a precious win here (1-1). Details will most likely determine this encounter and Milan can’t afford to slip up like they did against Inter.
Do you have a story tip?
Kindly Email: email@example.com