How Liverpool can stop unbeaten AC Milan at Anfield
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How Liverpool can stop unbeaten AC Milan at Anfield

AC Milan kick off their first Champions League campaign since 2013/14 against Liverpool. The Reds and the Rossoneri have a somewhat unique rivalry. They’ve clashed just twice in their history, despite sharing 13 European Cups between them – and both matches were in the final of the Champions League. Lets take a look at how Jurgen Klopp's team can kick-off their Champions League group stage campaign with the win over AC Milan.


Final Encounters

Istanbul hosted the first clash, the one etched into history for arguably the greatest comeback ever. 

Athens was home to the rematch two years later, with Pippo Inzaghi scoring a brace to lead Milan to a 2-1 win. 

Anfield Factor

For the first time ever in this tie, however, a team will have home advantage and Anfield under floodlights is something else. 

European royalty have made the trip to Merseyside over the years and have been rocked by the atmosphere. Real Madrid crumbled in 2009 and Barcelona saw a 3-0 aggregate lead evaporate ten years later. 

Yet Milan will quietly fancy their chances of causing an upset.

Milan In Good Form

Stefano Pioli’s side are unbeaten in Serie A this term, taking maximum points from their first three outings. 

They have the best defence in the league – conceding just once – while their attack is holding up their end of the bargain, notching seven times. Only Inter, Roma and Lazio can better that tally. 

Brahim Diaz was the difference-maker against Sampdoria in Gameweek 1. Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leao caught the eye in the 4-1 win over Cagliari, while Leao and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – absent for tonight’s match with an Achilles injury – found the back of the net in their convincing 2-0 victory against Lazio. 

Milan have been something of an enigma in the final third this season. They rank fifth for shots (having taken 48) but they’re in the bottom three for shot accuracy, landing just 20.8% of their efforts on target. 

In that regard, they’re wasteful. Bizarrely though, seven of their ten shots on target have been goals. 

Somehow, they’re both efficient and inefficient.  

Counter Attack Will Cause Problems

Piolo’s men transition from defence to attack with great speed. Sandro Tonali is adept at picking out a variety of passes. In fact, 26% of his passes this term have been classed as long. 

The likes of Leao, Diaz and Alexis Saelemaekers all like to carry the ball, with the former finding himself in the 86th percentile for progressive carries over the last year, when compared with other forwards across Europe’s top five leagues. 

Milan’s plan is simple but highly effective. They progress the ball quickly and then look to work it into the penalty area. It is no doubt a key reason why they rank third for crosses in Serie A, with 42 across their three outings. 

Tonali And Leao Threat

If Liverpool are to prevent an upset, they’re going to have to stop the ball from reaching Tonali and then swarm him if it does – just as they did to Kalvin Phillips when the Reds beat Leeds United 3-0. 

Jurgen Klopp’s side will also need to be wary of the threat posed by Leao on the Milan left. With Trent Alexander-Arnold likely to push on, the Portuguese forward could find himself in plenty of one-on-ones with Joel Matip. In a foot race, there’s going to be only one winner.  

They are two very big asks, but if the Premier League side can nullify those two players in particular, Milan will struggle to play their game. Allow them to do their thing, however, and the Reds could be in trouble. 




V: 1.22.1 All rights reserved. August 2021