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AC Milan vs Newcastle: UEFA Champions League – Group Stage Preview & Prediction

Match Preview

Newcastle United’s return to the group stage of this prestigious competition after a 21-year absence adds an intriguing element to the clash. Notably, the last time Newcastle participated in the Champions League during the 2002-03 season, AC Milan ultimately emerged as the champions.

However, AC Milan’s recent history in the tournament has been challenging. They were eliminated in the semi-finals last season, a bitter pill to swallow for their fans, particularly due to the continued dominance of their arch-rivals, Inter Milan. This frustration was evident in their recent Serie A match at the San Siro, where they suffered a resounding 5-1 defeat. Rafael Leão managed to salvage some pride with a goal in the second half, but this loss brought an end to their perfect record this season.

In contrast, Newcastle United appears to be finding their footing after a rocky start in the Premier League. They ended a three-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over Brentford, secured through Callum Wilson’s second-half penalty. The Magpies’ last significant European campaign was in the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League, where they reached the quarter-finals.

As these two teams prepare to face each other, the matchup promises to be an exciting encounter with AC Milan aiming to regain their Champions League glory and Newcastle United eager to make a triumphant return to this elite competition.

Team News:

The evening in Milan was a grim one, with relentless rain pouring down, but Stefano Pioli’s squad managed to navigate the match without any new injuries. This bodes well for their upcoming clash with Newcastle, as they should be able to field a stronger starting eleven.

Fikayo Tomori is set to return to the lineup after serving a suspension in the derby. He is expected to take the place of either Simon Kjaer or Malick Thiaw, both of whom had lacklustre performances against Inter.

Further up the field, there may be a couple of changes, with Christian Pulisic possibly making way for Samuel Chukwueze. Unfortunately, Pierre Kalulu, who is dealing with a muscle issue, and Ismael Bennacer, recovering from a knee injury, are still unavailable due to their injuries.

Newcastle, on the other hand, received a boost on the injury front over the weekend, adding an interesting dimension to the story at San Siro. Sandro Tonali was fit enough to make the bench against Brentford, indicating that he may soon see action against his former team after making the switch.

However, Joe Willock and Emil Krafth remain sidelined, and Joelinton is also expected to miss out. With Tonali returning to the starting lineup, it’s likely that 20-year-old Elliot Anderson will drop to the bench at San Siro.

AC Milan’s Last 5 Matches Form: LWWWW

Newcastle’s Last 5 Matches Form: WDLLL

Head-to-Head and Key Facts:

Both squads are set to face each other for the first time. Nevertheless, prior to this match, the home team and the visiting side have already taken on opponents from England and Italy, respectively.

In their 47 encounters with English teams in European competitions, the hosts have secured victory in only 13 instances. They’ve also suffered 20 defeats, while 14 matches concluded in draws.

AC Milan’s recent European outings have seen them clash with Premier League teams, resulting in just one win in eight games.

The visitors boast a respectable record in their nine European encounters against Italian teams, notching three wins, three defeats, and three draws.

Milan have emerged victorious in three of their last four Champions League fixtures on home turf, managing to keep clean sheets in each of these triumphs.

Newcastle, on the other hand, have experienced setbacks in both of their away games this season.

Match Prediction:

AC Milan endured a challenging return from the international break, suffering a resounding 5-1 defeat at their home ground, the San Siro, courtesy of their arch-rivals, Inter Milan. This defeat added insult to injury for the Rossoneri.

The absence of Fikayo Tomori, a cornerstone of Milan’s defence, due to suspension, combined with the fatigue of several players recently returned from international duty, contributed significantly to their disappointing loss. Manager Stefano Pioli faces the daunting task of motivating his team and orchestrating a markedly improved performance in their upcoming Champions League fixture.

On the other side of the pitch, the Newcastle United, popularly known as the Magpies, are gearing up for a historic clash. This marks their return to the prestigious European competition for the first time since 2003. Riding the momentum of a hard-fought victory in their initial post-international break encounter, they aim to maintain their winning form in this crucial match.

However, Eddie Howe’s squad will be without the services of Joelinton, who sustained a knee injury while on international duty with Brazil. An intriguing addition to their lineup might be former AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali, who was on the bench during their recent match against Brentford and could earn a starting spot.

Historically, Milan has been a formidable force in the Champions League, with the majority of their triumphs occurring on home soil. This pedigree makes them the favourites for this encounter. Nevertheless, the recent involvement of many key players in the gruelling derby loss to Inter Milan may affect their match fitness. The visitors, too, have shown inconsistency in their recent performances. Considering these factors, a closely contested, low-scoring draw could be on the cards.

Best Bet: AC Milan to win or draw 

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