19 September 2023


The guide to our Champions League opener

European nights return to San Siro. Pioli's AC Milan are fast approaching their first outing in Group F of the 2023/23 Champions League, and the first is already a prestigious one. In just a few hours, at 18:45 CEST, the Rossoneri will face Eddie Howe's Newcastle for their campaign opener. Discover our in-depth analysis ahead of the meeting with the English side.

The Rossoneri already have the chance to redeem themselves following the derby loss last weekend. Also with PSG and Borussia Dortmund, Group F is well-matched and every game will be a battle, and getting off to the right start is AC Milan's number 1 target. The calendar sets out 6 games in less than 20 days starting from tonight, and Pioli may now have to make some changes to the starting XI after keeping more or less the same line-up for the first four outings in the league. Tomori, suspended for the game against Inter, will be back beside Thiaw, whilst Pobega and Chukwueze compete with Reijnders and Pulisic to start in the AC Milan 4-3-3. With no one suspended, the only Rossoneri absences are Bennacer and Kalulu.

Pioli commented in the press conference on the eve of the match: "We know how tough this round is, the group is balanced and every point won will count. We know how important it is to start well. Newcastle has an intense, aggressive, and physical side; who also has quality. I will be moved to see Tonali again, just as he will be to see AC Milan, I will give him a hug".

The Magpies found an important win in their last Premier League match, and edge closer to their return to the Champions League after a 20-year absence. The 1-0 win over Brentford has given the group some momentum and refreshed their morale after three consecutive losses against Manchester City, Liverpool, and Brighton. Howe's team usually lines up in a 4-3-3 formation, well-established and active on the wings. Central defenders Botman and Schär are a constant in front of Pope, whilst captain Kieran Trippier and Burn complete the defence. Doubts about the starting XI come in the midfield: without Joelinton, Sandro Tonali could start alongside Guimaraes and one of Longstaff or Anderson. Isak is a mainstay of the offence, and at his sides, two of Almiron, Gordon, and Barnes will play.

Eddie Howe's words on the eve of the game: "We’re looking forward to immersing ourselves in the atmosphere of San Siro. I expect to meet a motivated AC Milan despite the result of the derby, it will be a different match and they will leave everything on th epitch. I met Pioli years ago, he is a great man, I was struck by his energy." "These are difficult emotions, because this is the team I support and the team that gave me the opportunity to grow as a player. It will be an intense, difficult match for both teams, hard-fought" - added Sandro Tonali.


  • This will be the first official meeting between AC Milan and Newcastle: the Rossoneri won their last match against an English side, 1-0 over Tottenham at San Siro after 10 games in the Champions League. 
  • Reaching the semi-finals last year, AC Milan has only been eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League once in the last 14 times they’ve taken part (2021/22).
  • AC Milan won their last two games in the group stage of the Champions League (4-0 against Dynamo Zagreb and 4-0 against Salzburg). The Rossoneri could win three in a row for the first time since 2006 when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge.

In Italy, AC Milan v Newcastle will be shown on Sky Sport and Mediaset Infinity at 18:45 CEST. Starting at 17:30 CEST, until kick-off, there's all the build-up on Milan TV's Matchday. After the game, we will have interviews and Stefano Pioli's post-match conference.

The game between the two teams will open the games for Group F in the Champions League, a really difficult group. The days games will be completed by PSG v Borussia Dortmund at 20:00 CEST at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

The referee will be 39-year-old Spaniard Sánchez Martínez, an international referee since 2017. Linesmen will be Raúl Cabañero and Iñigo Prieto, and the fourth official Cesar Soto Grado. On VAR duty will be Alejandro Hernández (AVAR, Marco Fritz of Germany). The referee has no prior experience with either squad: Martínez has refereed four games involving Italian sides in his career (Fiorentina, Juventus, Lazio and Roma) as well as the National team in a Nations League match against Poland in 2020.

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