Atlético Madrid were AC Milan’s opponents the last time the Rossoneri played a Champions League match at San Siro. Back then, on 19 February 2014, Clarence Seedorf sent out a Diavolo side that included Ricardo Kaká, who hit the bar that evening. More than seven years have passed and the Rossoneri are ready to play at home in Europe’s elite competition again, with the Colchoneros their opponents once more. It represents a highly anticipated return that is fully deserved. The matchday two clash in Group B will kick off at 21:00 CEST, and, beyond the historic nature of the occasion, AC Milan will be looking to pick up a victory that would start to put them in the running for qualification.
UPDATE FROM MILANELLO
The Rossoneri have reacted excellently since falling to defeat to Liverpool: a draw with Juventus despite having several players missing, and then two consecutive wins against Venezia and Spezia. It’s about to get even tougher, but, thankfully, Pioli now has a few more players at his disposal. Simon Kjær returned to group training on Sunday, with the Coach likely to be forced into making a last-minute decision on the Dane’s involvement. This also applies to Alessandro Florenzi. If all goes well, Kjær will compete for a starting berth with Romagnoli to play alongside Tomori. Davide Calabria and Olivier Giroud both featured in La Spezia; the Frenchman will be hoping to get the nod over Rebić in the centre-forward role.
"We'll need to play at our very best from a technical point of view and stay focused from kick-off to the final whistle. The bar is higher in the Champions League and the little details make all the difference,” said Stefano Pioli on the eve of the game. “We conceded goals in Liverpool due to lapses in concentration; we need to play simple, quick football, without making the wrong decisions. It'll be an important game but not a decisive one. We have four matches after the match tomorrow, but we want to get points on the board."
Diego Pablo Simeone’s side aren’t going through the best of periods, especially after their league defeat to Alavés. They’ve won once in their last four matches, coming from behind to beat Getafe thanks to goals from Luis Suárez after 78 and 90 minutes. However, this doesn’t detract from the strength of this team, who finished ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona to win the La Liga title last season and added Rodrigo de Paul, Matheus Cunha and Antoine Griezmann to their squad in the summer. Ready to unleash the quality of the attack he has at his disposal, the Argentine coach has been using a 3-5-2 formation at this early stage of the new campaign. Only in one game - the match against Getafe - did Atleti line up in a 4-4-2.
"We’re facing a strong and confident side that play in a very dynamic way,” said Simeone in his pre-match press conference. “To be back playing against a great team like AC Milan is fantastic. They’ve grown a lot in the past few years and are a strong rival that did well away to Liverpool. However, we’ll play with a sense of calm and need to give our all."
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: STATE OF PLAY
The Rossoneri lost 3-2 to Liverpool in their opening fixture at Anfield. The other match between Atlético and Porto, meanwhile, finished in a 0-0 stalemate. Therefore, the Group B table currently looks like this: Liverpool 3 points, Atlético 1, Porto 1, AC Milan 0. In the other game in matchday two, Porto will take on Liverpool at the Estádio do Dragão. Like AC Milan v Atlético Madrid, kick-off is scheduled for 21:00 CEST.
Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakır will take charge of the match. He first refereed a Rossoneri match on 20 August 2013, when it finished PSV Eindhoven 1-1 AC Milan in a first-leg showdown in the Champions League qualifying playoff round. He was then the man in the middle for Celtic 0-3 AC Milan on 26 November 2003. Çakır has previously been the referee for three games involving the Colchoneros: Bayern Munich 2-1 Atlético Madrid (3 May 2016), a semi-final second-leg clash in the Champions League; Atlético Madrid 2-1 Real Madrid (10 May 2017), another return fixture in the semis of Europe’s elite competition; Atlético Madrid 1-2 Chelsea (27 September 2019), a UCL group stage clash.
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