May 30, 2024

UCL preview: Borussia Dortmund vs. AC Milan - Team news, opposition insight,  stats and more

Tuesday night’s Champions League match between AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund at San Siro is crucial in the team’s quest to advance to the knockout stages.

Milan’s chances of qualifying were greatly increased in their most recent home European match when they overcame Paris Saint-Germain 2-1. On Saturday, they also defeated Fiorentina 1-0 to snap a four-game losing streak in Serie A.

During the pregame press conference, Stefano Pioli acknowledged that his team will need to improve even more after their victory over Dortmund over the weekend. He also mentioned that he is aware of the potential €100 million in revenue that could be at stake in the match.

Team updates
Out of all the injured players on the Champions League roster, Simon Kjaer doesn’t seem likely to play against BVB at this point, and Marco Sportiello, Pierre Kalulu, Noah Okafor, and Rafael Leao will most likely not be able to make it.

Moreover, compared to the match on Saturday, there won’t be Francesco Camarda or Yunus Musah. The former is suspended, the latter is not allowed to play, and Jan-Carlo Simic is also not eligible to play because he does not fit the criteria to be on List B.

Thus, Mike Maignan in goal and a four-man defensive line consisting of Fikayo Tomori, Davide Calabria, Malick Thiaw, and Theo Hernandez are practically forced to start.

Tijjani Reijnders, Rade Krunic, and the now fully recovered Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be in the midfield. The Englishman might be used in a more advanced role than the other two midfielders, similar to what happened against PSG.

Given that Olivier Giroud’s ban is limited to Serie A and does not extend to European competitions, Samuel Chukwueze and Christian Pulisic will play on the wings.

Calabria, Thiaw, Tomori, Hernandez; Reijnders, Krunic; Chukwueze, Loftus-Cheek, Pulisic; Giroud are the likely members of the Milan XI (4-2-3-1).

The adversaries
We summarized Borussia Dortmund’s summer activities, including their transfer business, in our preview of the rematch in Germany. As of this writing, the team was in fourth place.

Since their initial encounter, BVB has dropped to ten points behind Bayer Leverkusen, who is currently the season’s surprise package. They have remained in the top four thanks to victories over teams like Hoffenheim, Werder Bremen, and most recently, Borussia Mönchengladbach; however, defeats to Bayern Munich (0-4) and VfB Stuttgart have left them far behind in the race for the championship.

However, they had remarkable back-to-back victories in the Champions League against Newcastle United, defeating them 2-0 in the Ruhr Valley and winning 1-0 at St. James Park thanks to a resolute defensive effort.

As previously mentioned, they recently defeated the other Borussia and scored four goals, which was greatly needed. Donyell Malen, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, Niclas Füllkrug, and Marcel Sabitzer were all listed on the scoreboard.

Felix Nmecha is the only player who is unquestionably out due to a hip injury, but Edin Terzic, the head coach, is nearly 100% fit for the trip over the Alps to face Milan. The coach has been under pressure following some poor results this season.

While forwards Karim Adeyemi and Sebastien Haller have recovered from illnesses to travel, Emre Can and Gregor Kobel are anticipated to be available after overcoming fitness concerns to participate in the victory over Mönchengladbach. But Niklas Sule stayed in Germany because he was sick with a cold.

Dortmund’s starting lineup for this season has been notoriously unpredictable, but rumors indicate that it will be a 4-2-3-1 with Kobel in goal, Bensebaini, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, and Ryerson in defense, Can and Sabitzer directly in front of Füllkrug, and Reus, Brandt, and Malen in back.

Dortmund’s probable starting lineup (4-2-3-1) is: Kobel; Can, Ozcan; Reus, Brandt, Gittens; Fullkrug; Ryerson, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Bensebaini

Compare and contrast
Milan has seven meetings with Dortmund in their history; three of those meetings have ended in victories, two in losses, and two in draws.

The two teams’ first meeting took place in the European Cup quarterfinals of 1957–58, with Milan winning 4–1 at San Siro and emerging with an overall 5-2 victory.

When the teams faced off again in the 2002–03 Champions League group stage, Milan prevailed 1-0 at the Westfalenstadion behind a goal from Pippo Inzaghi in the second half. However, in the rematch, the Bundesliga team won 1-0 at San Siro thanks to a late goal from Jan Koller.

Naturally, this season’s most recent matchup between the two teams resulted in a 0-0 draw at Signal Iduna Park, despite the fact that the game was far more entertaining than the score indicates.

Comply with the facts…

In the UEFA Champions League, Milan will play Borussia Dortmund for the first time since a 1-0 loss in the second group stage of the 2002–03 season. Milan had defeated Dortmund in their two prior home matches (4-1 in the 1957–58 European Cup and 3-1 in the 2001–02 UEFA Cup).

➤ Since defeating Udinese 2-0 in a UEFA Cup game in October 2008, Borussia Dortmund has suffered losses in four of their previous five away games against Italian teams in UEFA European competition (D1).

➤ Milan has only suffered a loss (W11 D4) in their last 16 home games in European competition against German teams; however, that one loss did come against

☤ Milan’s manager, Stefano Pioli, will be looking to win their next three UEFA Champions League games after his team’s MD4 victory over Paris Saint-Germain. This will only be his second time winning games in a row as a manager. He will have overseen 23 games in the competition, starting with this one.

➤ Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to win three straight UEFA Champions League games for the first time since November 2020 (a run of three under Lucien Favre) after consecutive victories over Newcastle (1-0 on the road and 2-0 at home).

➤ Only Benfica (1) has scored less goals than Milan in their four UEFA Champions League games this season, with Milan having only scored twice. In the group stage this term, Milan (-3.7 – two goals from 5.7 xG) has outperformed against their expected goals total by a greater margin than Internazionale (-3.8).

☤ Borussia Dortmund hasn’t let up in any of their last three UEFA Champions League games, and they haven’t kept four straight clean sheets in the competition since Jürgen Klopp’s four-game run of April–October 2014.

In November 2011, Edin Terzic (41 years old) became the youngest manager to defeat Milan at the Giuseppe Meazza in the UEFA Champions League, if Borussia Dortmund prevailed. Pep Guardiola (40 years old) had the same feat (Milan 2-3 Barcelona).

☤ Rafael Leão leads all Milan players in the UEFA Champions League this year with eight open play chances, fifteen completed dribbles, and thirty-four progressive carries. He could score in back-to-back competition games for the first time after his goal against Paris Saint-Germain last time out.

➤ Mats Hummels, a defender for Borussia Dortmund, leads the UEFA Champions League in interceptions and combined tackles this season with 24. In fact, he is just one of three players in this tournament—the other two being Fikayo Tomori of Milan and Abdülkerim Bardakc of Galatasaray—who have recorded 10 or more tackles and 10 or more interceptions.

Watch out for Giroud, who won the match against PSG in the most recent European night at San Siro. With Leao, the game’s Man of the Match, still sidelined, he and Pulisic will need to lead the attack against his old team.

But Loftus-Cheek in an advanced role might have been the tactical difference in that match against the Parisians, so that will be something to keep an eye on. Theo needs to improve on his Saturday goal, and Thiaw and Tomori, the center back duo, need to demonstrate their superior play.

Dortmund has a very diverse offensive threat, with seven players having multiple Bundesliga goals. With four goals apiece, Brandt, Malen, and Füllkrug—all favorites to start—tie for first place.

In addition, Brandt has five assists, which makes him the top contributor overall. Dortmund will try to withstand the hostile atmosphere of over 70,000 fans at San Siro by leaning on the experience of Champions League veterans like Hummels and Can.

It truly is a game where anything can happen. Dortmund might accept a point because it would keep them ahead of Milan, but there should still be room because we don’t think they have a defend-first strategy. For the Rossoneri, making it to the championship round is all that matters.

Dortmund 2-1 Milan

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