Best odds: 13/5
In a bid to advance from the competitive Champions League ‘Group of Death’, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund clash at San Siro on Tuesday evening, seeking to capitalize on their previous European triumphs.
Dortmund currently lead Group F with seven points, securing consecutive wins against Newcastle United. Meanwhile, Milan, positioned third, are only two points adrift after their recent victory over Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.
In the race to secure a spot in the Champions League’s knockout stage, four clubs are tightly packed within a three-point range as they approach the penultimate fixtures of Group F.
Milan, after their comeback victory against Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month, where Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud secured a crucial win, are aware that another triumph at San Siro could bring them close to clinching a berth in the knockout phase for two consecutive seasons.
However, facing an in-form Dortmund presents a significant challenge. Despite their previous 3-0 loss to PSG in France, Milan now control their destiny: consecutive wins against Dortmund and Newcastle would guarantee a top-two finish.
After the international break, Milan returned from an inconsistent domestic spell, where they secured only two points from their last four Serie A matches. Their recent encounter against an unpredictable Fiorentina squad saw them claim a narrow 1-0 victory, courtesy of a Theo Hernandez penalty just before halftime, with 15-year-old Francesco Camarda making history as the youngest player to debut in Serie A off the bench.
With key forwards Giroud and Leao sidelined, Milan’s offensive capabilities were limited. Their record of only two goals in four Champions League games raises concerns about their attacking prowess.
Welcoming Borussia Dortmund to San Siro for their first Champions League encounter since a 1-0 defeat in the 2002-03 season, Milan have a strong record against German opponents at home, losing just one of their last 16 UEFA competition matches and securing 11 victories in that span.
Having received a red card in his 100th appearance for Milan against Lecce, Olivier Giroud is set to rejoin the Rossoneri’s starting lineup after serving a Serie A suspension in their match against Fiorentina.
Stefano Pioli’s team continue to face injury setbacks, with forwards Noah Okafor (hamstring) and Rafael Leao (thigh) still unavailable.
In the absence of Giroud, Luka Jovic and Samu Chukwueze partnered with Christian Pulisic in the previous match. However, with Giroud returning, Jovic might move to the bench while Chukwueze could retain his place, filling in for Leao, who leads Milan’s Champions League stats for chances created from open play (eight) and successful dribbles (15).
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who played a pivotal role against PSG, made his Serie A return as a substitute during the weekend and is expected to be in contention for a starting role on Tuesday. This is especially relevant as Yunus Musah will be absent due to a suspension.
After their previous encounter with Milan, where they played out a goalless draw at home, Dortmund found themselves facing an early exit from the Champions League with only one point from their initial two matches.
However, a notable turnaround has occurred since then. BVB have now claimed the top spot in the group following consecutive wins over Newcastle, sealing a 2-0 victory in their most recent clash in Germany. Niclas Fullkrug and Julian Brandt found the net in each half, securing crucial points for Dortmund. Remarkably, for the first time in their history, Dortmund have kept four straight clean sheets in Champions League home matches.
While eyeing a potential third successive victory in the competition for the first time since 2020, the German side travel to Italy amidst inconsistent performances in domestic competitions. They currently trail league leaders Bayer Leverkusen by 10 points.
In their most recent Bundesliga outing, Dortmund rallied from a two-goal deficit to secure a 4-2 win against Borussia Monchengladbach. The team commanded by Edin Terzic has experienced just three defeats in 18 games this season. However, they have struggled to exhibit their previous attacking prowess.
Their recent Bundesliga form, with just one point earned from three fixtures before the international break, has seen them fall further behind in the title race. Yet, a successful run in Europe would undoubtedly bolster their credentials and provide a positive outlook as they move forward into 2024.
The away side will have to make do without Felix Nmecha, who suffered a hip injury that recently sidelined him from the German national squad. However, Emre Can and Gregor Kobel have both recovered from their fitness issues and are available to play against Gladbach.
At the forefront of the attack, Niclas Fullkrug has impressively scored in his last three appearances for BVB. Donyell Malen is likely to surpass Jamie Bynoe-Gittens in the pecking order to support Dortmund’s main striker. Meanwhile, Karim Adeyemi and Sebastien Haller are dealing with illness and aren’t likely to be available for selection.
The contest between these teams is likely to be close again, with another low-scoring draw possibly on the cards. If so, the group rankings will be decided in the final round.
Best odds: 13/5
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