AC Milan vs Newcastle United
Stadio San Siro forms the backdrop for a mouth-watering Champions League Group F opener between AC Milan and Newcastle United.
Despite last season’s heartbreaking Champions League semi-final exit, AC Milan could feel relieved for returning to Europe following a humiliating 5-1 Derby della Madonnina defeat to Inter Milan at the weekend. That loss knocked Stefano Pioli’s men down from a perfect three-game Serie A start (W3) and caused unrest among the San Siro faithful. Desperate to redeem themselves to the fans, ‘I Rossoneri’ come into this fixture encouraged by a run of four wins in their last five Champions League home games against foreign clubs (L1), including a 1-0 victory over Tottenham in the 2022/23 round of 16. However, that remains Milan’s only success across their last 11 European matches against English sides (D2, L8), casting doubt on their bid to recover from a hugely disappointing weekend.
On the other hand, Newcastle United’s first Champions League group stage appearance since 2002/03 comes amid a rough patch, with Eddie Howe’s side losing three Premier League games on the trot before a narrow 1-0 home win over Brentford last weekend. With Howe gearing up for his touchline debut in the Champions League, addressing Newcastle’s travel sickness is at the forefront of his mind after overseeing four consecutive road trips without a victory (D2, L2). Furthermore, the ‘Magpies’ last kept a clean sheet outside St James’ Park in a 1-0 League Cup win at Southampton in January! But their only previous visit to San Siro yielded a 2-2 draw against Inter in 2003, which remains the only time they’ve shared the spoils in 16 Champions League fixtures (W8, L7).