champions-league07 December 2021


The final UCL group stage matchday: our guide to the game at San Siro

90 minutes that could go down in history, the chance to become only the second-ever team to qualify for the Champions League round of 16 after losing their first three group stage games. AC Milan v Liverpool is a fixture not to be missed and not only for what's at stake; it's one of these European nights that are part of this Club's DNA, a chance that Pioli's team have fought for tooth and nail in the games against Porto and Atlético. Ahead of kick-off at 21:00 CET, let's get ready for the game with our Match Preview.

There is one big absence from the Salernitana game, which saw the Rossoneri go top, to add to Pellegri (who isn't on the UEFA list: Rafael Leão is out due to an injury that forced him off against the Granata. Calabria, Giroud, Kjær and Rebić are also all still unavailable. In terms of the starting line-up - away from who might replace the Portuguese winger - it's possible that Kessie and Tonali could start together in midfield, with Kalulu coming in for Florenzi on the right.

"We're just thinking about tomorrow's game. The Club's aim is to make AC Milan competitive in Italy and Europe against," Stefano Pioli said in his pre-match press conference. "We've prepared well for this game. In the reverse fixture, they put us under a lot of pressure and we didn't work hard enough off the ball. We need to improve on this; we know have a better awareness of the spaces and positions on the pitch. Once we've beaten that first press, the space could open up for us to hurt them."

Already confirmed as group winners, Liverpool are in stunning form at the moment: five wins on the spin in the Premier League and Champions, with just one goal conceded in their last 450 minutes of football (in a 4-1 win in the Merseyside Derby against Everton). This recent run of results has relaunched the Reds' title hopes as Klopp's men currently occupy second place, just one point behind leaders Manchester City. Liverpool are led by a stunning forward line: they have scored 64 goals in 22 games and, at the time of writing, have scored more goals away from home than they have at Anfield (39 to 25).

For the Reds, a win at San Siro would set records both for the club and for English football as a whole: Liverpool have, in fact, never before won six consecutive matches in the Champions League and an English side has never won all six of their group stage games in the premier European club football competition. The Reds will also have to make do without certain absentees, such as the suspended James Milner and the injured Firmino.

"We want to play with the best team possible, but also bearing the situation in mind; it'll be our fifth game in 15 days," said Jürgen Klopp. "I’m looking forward to playing in San Siro, I can tell you – first time for me."

The Rossoneri's win in Madrid against Atético has really opened things up in terms of the race for second place. Liverpool - who are top and already guaranteed to win the group - are on 15 points ahead of Porto on 5 and AC Milan and Atlético on 4. The outcome will be decided by what happens at the Dragão between the Azuis e brancos and the Colchoneros: Porto will progress with a win, while any other result will give AC Milan a chance to go through.

38-year-old Dutch referee Danny Makkelie will officiate AC Milan v Liverpool - his first game involving the Rossoneri. He has, on the other hand, referee Liverpool on numerous occasions, including their 2-0 over Atleti this season. Makkelie may be a stranger to Pioli's team but he is already acquainted with Italian football; he took charge of the Azzurri's EURO 2020 opener against Turkey as well as the 2020 Europa League final between Sevilla and Inter.

#BackHome, Capsule Collection: check out the new collection to celebrate our return to the Champions League!

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