AC Milan host Newcastle United in the ‘Group of Death’
On Tuesday 5:45pm (UK time), AC Milan host Newcastle United at the San Siro stadium in a UEFA Champions League group stage match.
It’s been 20 years since Newcastle last graced the champions League and now, they face an AC Milan side that reached last season’s semi-final. Group F has been dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ as it also features Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund.
AC Milan are a club steeped in Champions League glory, winning seven titles; this will also be their 20th Champions league campaign. Their experience will be valuable as their players will be used to the occasion.
While Eddie Howe is set to make his Champions League debut alongside many of this Newcastle squad. This will only be their third appearance in the competition, can the magpies withstand the bright Champions League lights?
Newcastle come into this fixture on the back of a 1-0 win against Brentford. However, they lost their three game prior to that.
In contrast, AC Milan had won four in a row until recently loosing 5-1 in the Milan derby to Inter. Stefano Pioli’s men will be licking their wounds and eager to impress.
Regarding the 5-1 loss Pioli said: “It was a huge disappointment, but we have the Champions League now, thankfully, because it’s the only way we can actually try and switch our focus.”
Pioli and his team will be welcoming back Sandro Tonali who recently joined Newcastle in the summer.
The inexperience of this Newcastle United side is a double-edged sword as they can be overwhelmed by this stage. Although, they have the advantage of unpredictability and will lean on Tonali to guide them in this fixture. Tonali was an unused substitute against Brentford with potential injury, but he should be cleared to play.
Both sides tend to lineup similarly in a 433 formation with dynamic wingers on either side and a physical centre forward. This will be a tough game for fullbacks as both teams enjoy attacking down either side.
Newcastle will be hoping to overpower the ‘Rossoneri’s’ with their high intensity pressing style. If unsuccessful, Newcastle could easily come undone as AC Milan are a major threat in transition and on the counter.
Particularly on the left-hand side, where the fruitful partnership of Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leão has caused teams problems particularly with their skill and speed. Leão has started the season well with three goals and assists in four league appearances.
However, it is former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud that will keep the centre back partnership of Sven Botman and Fabian Schar occupied.
Giroud has notched an impressive record against the magpies scoring nine and assisting twice in 14 appearances. Alongside this he has lost only once against Newcastle, winning an outstanding 13 times against the side.
Ac Milan will also have to be weary of Bruno Guimarães, whose control in midfield and eye for a pass will be crucial to unlocking their defence. It is expected that Alexander Isak will start, and his tricky nature and composure in front of goal will be important to beat Mike Maignan, who is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Both teams will be without some of their key players; Newcastle will be without their dogged midfielder Joelinton who is out with a knee injury. Joe Willock is also out with an Achilles injury.
AC Milan are without their defensive midfielder Ismail Bennacer whose ability under pressure and in tight spaces would’ve been valued in this fixture.
This matchup will be exciting with individual battles all over the pitch that will be decisive to who will be crowned victor on Tuesday. Securing three points is vital as the group of death favours none.