AC Milan make the trip to Portugal in hopes of securing their first Champions League group stage victory and keeping their hopes of the round of 16 against Porto.
Milan are struggling to advance to the competition’s round of 16 after losing their first two group matches, and they head to the Estadio do Dragao knowing that three points are almost a necessity as they hope Liverpool beats Atleti so that the gap can begin. be bridged.
Stefano Pioli described the next two matches against Porto as “decisive” but he’s struggling with a few selection issues that mean it’s going to be a tough trip.
Date of the game: Tuesday, October 18
Kick-off time: 8:45 p.m. (Paris time)
Place: Dragao Stadium
Arbitrator: Felix Brych
With the group opener being a 3-2 loss at Anfield to Liverpool where the team led at half-time but came out empty-handed, they also led against Atletico Madrid at San Siro before a shady red card and an even shadier penalty gave the Spaniards three points, so a win is in order.
Mike Maignan, Theo Hernandez, Brahim Diaz, Alessandro Florenzi, Ante Rebic and disqualified Franck Kessie are all certain to miss the game, but the good news is that Tiemoue Bakayoko has resumed training with the team and Rade Krunic has made his return against Hellas Verona.
MilanNews reports that Olivier Giroud will be the striker with Rafa Leao on the left wing with Rebic injured and Alexis Saelemaekers on the right side. Number 10 will either be Daniel Maldini or Rade Krunic, but so far the Bosnian appears to be the favorite.
Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer will be the double pivot given the suspension of Franck Kessie while Bakayoko will be back available on the bench. Ciprian Tatarusanu will be in goal with a pair of center-backs Fikayo Tomori and Simon Kjaer ahead of him. Pierre Kalulu will be the right-back and Davide Calabria on the left while Ballo-Toure becomes a substitute again.
Likely Milan XI (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Kjaer, Tomori, Calabria; Tonali, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Leao; Grioud. The shepherd Stefano Pioli.
Porto have started their domestic season well with six out of eight wins which puts them in second place, as do Milan in Serie A. They won the league and the cup in 2019-20 as well as the Portuguese Supercup last season. , this will also be the case. look to add more silverware.
In the Champions League, however, it has been a mixed bag as they followed an impressive goalless draw against Atletico Madrid with a 5-1 at home against Liverpool which puts the Reds at the top of the group. Porto’s most recent result was a 5-0 cup victory, but against less opposition.
In terms of fitness issues, Otavio returned in Friday’s cup game after facing Liverpool but Chancel Mbemba is expected to be missing but he is the only known absentee for the Portuguese giants.
Sergio Conceicao is a manager who loves the 4-4-2 system and we can expect the Dragões to line up in this lineup with former goal Jesus Corona and Champions League veteran Pepe in the full four. , and the impressive Diaz wide on the right in what can work as a 4-2-2-2 with Otavio – another former target – also coming in.
Probable Porto XI (4-4-2): Marchesin; Corona, Pepe, Marcano, Sanusi; Otavio, Oliveira, Uribe, Diaz; Martinez, Taremi.
There have been eight meetings between Porto and Milan in the Champions League and the Rossoneri have won three, with Porto winning twice and the other three being drawn. It will be their first game in the competition since the 1996-97 season when Porto won 3-2 at San Siro and the second leg was a 1-1 draw.
The last meeting in the general classification took place during the 2003 UEFA Super Cup, which was played in Monaco. Milan qualified by beating Juventus in the 2003 Champions League final, while Porto qualified by beating Celtic in the 2003 UEFA Cup final, with Diavolo losing 1-0 thanks to the goal precocious by Andriy Shevchenko.
➤ Porto and Milan have not faced each other since the 2003 European Supercup final, when Porto were reigning UEFA Cup champions and Milan had just won the Champions League. The Rossoneri won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Andriy Shevchenko.
➤ Milan last played against Porto in the UEFA Champions League in the 1996-97 group stages. Porto won 3-2 at Meazza Stadium before a 1-1 draw at Estádio das Antas, with current Porto manager Sérgio Conceição playing for them in both matches. Porto finished top of the group that year, along with Milan
eliminated in third place.
➤ Including qualifying matches, seven of Milan’s eight away matches in UEFA competitions in Portugal ended in a draw (V1), with their only win against Porto in March 1993, a 1 victory -0 thanks to a goal from Jean-Pierre Papin.
➤ Porto have lost their last two home matches in the UEFA Champions League (0-2 to Chelsea and 1-5 to Liverpool), and will look to avoid suffering three consecutive home defeats in the competition for the first time in their history .
➤ Milan suffered a 3-2 loss to Liverpool at Anfield in their 2021-22 UEFA Champions League away opener, last losing consecutive European away games in April 2012 , against Arsenal and Barcelona in this competition.
➤ Porto have kept their clean sheet in six of their last seven UEFA Champions League group stage games (4 v., 2 n., N. 1), but conceded five goals in their last outing in the competition against Liverpool.
➤ Among players who have logged more than 500 minutes in the competition since the start of last season, FC Porto winger Luis Díaz leads all UEFA Champions League players in the fastest average carry distance. farther away – the Colombian completed 79 carries in total, averaging 14.2 meters of distance covered.
➤ Milan duo Rafael Leão and Brahim Díaz have either scored or assisted in their two UEFA Champions League appearances this season. The last player to be directly involved in a goal in three consecutive appearances in the competition for AC Milan was Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 2011-12 campaign.
(five in a row).
➤ Milan’s Theo Hernández has taken the ball to 282 meters in the UEFA Champions League this season (out of 24 in total); the third back in the competition, behind Andy Robertson (383m) from Liverpool and Alphonso Davies (382m) from Bayern Munich.
➤ Mehdi Taremi scored 50% of Porto’s goals in the UEFA Champions League in 2021 (3/6). The Iranian striker is looking to score in three consecutive UEFA Champions League home games, with Moussa Marega being the latest player to do so for FC Porto (a series of four in 2018-19).
Those to watch
For Milan, the eye will be on the performance of the players who have been invited to replace the established holders. Ciprian Tatarusanu will have to use all his experience for his first start to the Champions League season, as will Pierre Kalulu on the right side of the defense.
Rade Krunic will be asked to perform tasks on and off the ball and, of course, eyes will be on Leao to play in his home country after playing for Porto rivals Sporting CP, while Pioli is hoping that Giroud is in good shape and ready to shoot.
There is no doubt that Luis Diaz is the man of the moment for Porto. The 24-year-old Colombian forward has six goals under his belt and an assist already in the current campaign, making him the top scorer.
Martinez and Taremi’s first two also combined for seven goals, while Pepe versus Giroud or potentially Ibrahimovic later in the game promises to be a fascinating battle.
This is truly a do or die game for both teams, which in theory should eliminate any possibility of a stale game or a draw with a low score. Depth has been hit for Milan, but Pioli’s men have a knack for overcoming adversity to get the results they need, so there is no reason not to be confident.
Prediction: Porto 1-2 AC Milan
READ MORE: Milan XI likely to face Porto – Pioli still remains to be resolved