Sports, Football

Milan face Newcastle in Champions League opener

Published : 18 Sep 2023 07:36 PM

AC Milan will welcome Newcastle United to the San Siro in their UEFA Champions League group-stage opener on Tuesday.

The visitors are back in the group stage of the competition after 21 years. Interestingly, Milan went on to become the champions the last time Newcastle played in the Champions League in the 2002-03 season.

The hosts were eliminated from the semi-finals by arch-rivals Inter Milan last season. Their struggles against Inter continued on Saturday, as they suffered a thumping 5-1 defeat at the San Siro in Serie A. Rafael Leão bagged the consolation goal for them in the second half as their 100% record came to an end.

The visitors, meanwhile, returned to winning ways after three consecutive losses in the Premier League as Callum Wilson's second-half penalty helped them defeat Brentford 1-0 at home. In their last appearance in Europe, they made it to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League in the 2012-13 edition.

The Rossoneri suffered a 5-1 defeat in their first game after the international break, with that defeat coming at the San Siro against rivals Inter Milan, adding insult to injury.

Stefano Pioli had Fikayo Tomori, one of Milan's main defenders, suspended for the match and a few of his players had just returned from international duties, which played a part in the loss. 

He will look to rouse his players and deliver an improved performance in their first match in the Champions League.

The Magpies have a lot at stake in this match, as they are playing in the competition for the first time since 2003. Having recorded a narrow win in their first game after the international break, they'll look to continue that form in this match.

Eddie Howe will remain without the services of Joelington, who picked up a knee injury during the international break with Brazil. Former AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali was on the bench against Brentford and might start here.

Last season, four of Milan's five wins in the Champions League came at home, so they are the favorites here. Nonetheless, most of their key players featured in the derby loss to Inter, so they might struggle with match fitness. The visitors have also been inconsistent in their recent games. With that in mind, a low-scoring draw might ensue.