AC Milan will be looking to make it through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League tomorrow, taking on Tottenham with a 1-0 lead on aggregate. However, away from home, it won’t be an easy clash.
Milan’s winning streak came to an end on Saturday evening, stopped at four games, as Fiorentina prevailed at Artemio Franchi. It was a disappointing display for the Rossoneri, who lost what they had built up during the streak.
Speaking at the press conference earlier this evening, amid recent comments, Stefano Pioli assured that they won’t be caught off guard by Tottenham and their home advantage.
Game date: Wednesday, 7 March
Kick-off time: 21:00 (CET)
Venue: Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Clement Turpin (VAR: Alejandro Hernandez)
As we all know, the injury situation has improved massively over the last few weeks and Milan can even be considered fully fit. Even Alessandro Florenzi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who were recovering from serious injuries, are back in action.
There was a bit of an injury scare in the last few days, though, as Brahim Diaz continued on an individual program and Olivier Giroud suffered from fever. Fortunately, both took part in today’s training and will be available.
According to the latest from Sky Italia, Pioli will make a couple of changes to the starting XI compared to the Fiorentina defeat. Malick Thiaw will likely keep his spot in spite of rumours suggesting Simon Kjaer could replace him, given that he handled Harry Kane well in the first leg.
In midfield, Milan will be hoping that Ismael Bennacer can play the entire game and also for an increase in quality from Sandro Tonali, who has struggled lately. Junior Messias is the favourite to start on the right, but Alexis Saelemaekers is still in the running.
Up front, Brahim Diaz isn’t considered fully fit just yet and that’s why Rade Krunic will play from the first minute. He was suspended against Fiorentina but is coming off the back of a great display against Atalanta.
Rafael Leao is also back from suspension, of course, and he will team up with the Bosnian as well as Olivier Giroud. The latter has disposed of the fever and will be looking to strike against his former city rivals tomorrow.
Update: MilanNews are now saying that Krunic could replace Bennacer in midfield, with Diaz starting in attack.
Probable Milan XI (3-4-2-1): Maignan; Kalulu, Thiaw, Tomori; Messias, Tonali, Krunic, Theo Hernandez; Diaz, Leao; Giroud.
It’s been a season filled with ups and downs for Tottenham, who have been struggling to find continuity. Just like Milan, they are coming off a loss (1-0 vs. Wolves) and tomorrow’s game is expected to be quite decisive for Antonio Conte’s immediate future, as English media claims.
On a positive note, the important midfielder Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg is back from his suspension and will start tomorrow. The Dane is a leader for the team and given the absence of Rodrigo Bentancur, he’s even more crucial.
Eric Dier was carded in the first leg and will miss out due to a suspension, while Hugo Lloris, Yves Bissouma and Ryan Sessegnon are injured. The situation is far from ideal for Conte, therefore, and there will be some compromises.
In defence, Spurs could start with Ben Davies in the three-man backline to the left, whereas he’s normally a left-back/wing-back. Further up the pitch, Oliver Skipp – who was decent in the first leg – should get the chance next to Hojbjerg.
Heung-min Son and Richarlison have both been in very poor form this season but the former seems to be the favourite to start. The former Serie A man (on loan from Juventus) Dejan Kulusevski will be hoping for a better night against Milan on the right.
Probable Tottenham XI (3-4-3): Forster; Romero, Lenglet, Davies; Emerson, Hojbjerg, Skipp, Perisic; Kulusevski, Kane, Son.
Head to head
Milan have faced off against Tottenham five times in their history, with the first couple of meetings coming over 50 years ago and the most recent two – prior to the first leg – being 12 years ago.
In 2011, Tottenham secured a 1-0 win at San Siro and then defended their aggregate lead at White Heart Lane. Milan will be hoping to do the same this time out, but the feeling is that we will see more goals than that encounter.
In the reverse fixture, Milan took control of the game thanks to an early goal by Brahim Diaz. Tottenham struggled to create chances throughout the game and, truth be told, the Rossoneri could have scored one or two more.
➤ Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat in the first leg was their first defeat in five meetings with AC Milan (W2 D2) in all European competition. Their two previous home games against them have finished 2-1 (April 1972) and 0-0 (March 2011).
➤ Milan have only ever won one of their 21 away games against English sides in all European competition (D7 L13), beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in February 2005. They’ve lost their last three visits to London by an aggregate score of 9-1.
➤ Tottenham have progressed from two of their last three European ties when losing the first leg, doing so against Ajax in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League semi-final, and against Paços de Ferreira in qualifying for the 2021-22 Europa Conference League.
➤ AC Milan have been eliminated from just three of their 21 previous European Cup/UEFA Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg, going out to Feyenoord (1969-70), Deportivo de La Coruña (2003-04) and Barcelona (2012-13).
➤ Tottenham have lost four of their last six home matches in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages (W2), including each of the last two (vs Ajax in 2018-19 semi-final and RB Leipzig in 2019-20 round of 16).
➤ Milan have won their last three UEFA Champions League matches, last having a longer such run over a single season between February and April 2005 (5). They’ve not won both legs of a knockout stage tie in the competition since the 2004-05 quarter-final against Inter.
➤ Tottenham have conceded the first goal in five of their seven UEFA Champions League games this season, keeping a clean sheet in the other two games (2-0 vs Marseille, 0-0 vs Eintracht Frankfurt).
➤ Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has won five of his last six home games against AC Milan in all competitions, with the exception being a 2-1 defeat in October 2020 while in charge of Inter.
➤ Spurs striker Harry Kane has scored just one goal in seven UEFA Champions League games this season, having netted 20 in his first 24 appearances in the competition. However, he has scored six goals in his last six Champions League games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
➤ Olivier Giroud has been involved in six goals in his last six UEFA Champions League appearances, twice as many as any other Milan player this season (4 goals, 2 assists). Giroud scored six goals in the competition with Chelsea in 2020-21, and five with Arsenal in 2015-16, and could become the second Frenchman to score 5+ goals in a single season for three different clubs, after Thierry Henry (Monaco, Arsenal and Barcelona).
Ones to watch
Rafael Leao is the obvious answer for Milan. His creativity in attack was heavily missed against Fiorentina and after eight games without a goal, the Portuguese winger will be eager to show his qualities in front of the English crowd.
In addition to him, Milan will rely heavily on Ismael Bennacer(if he starts) in the build-up phase. You could tell he wasn’t 100% against Fiorentina, but the hope is that he’s ready for this one and the Rossoneri really need him in good form.
As for the home side, it goes without saying that they need a Harry Kane in good form in order to threaten Milan tomorrow. He was neutralised by Simon Kjser in the first leg and the entire Spurs attack suffered a lot from that.
Then, of course, the return of Pierre-Emil Hjobjerg is absolutely crucial for Conte’s men. Bentancur may still be missing, but the Dane will at least halve the deficit and make sure Spurs have a say in the midfield battle.
It’s a very tough game to call, given the form of both teams. Milan seem to have a slight advantage in that sense but at home, Tottenham will get fantastic support from their fans. A draw would be enough for the Rossoneri, and perhaps that should be the aim.
Tottenham 1-1 AC Milan
Come on you Spurs !
That ended rather nicely don’t you say?
Please do not play Tomori, and we’re goid
Kjaer should replace Tomori not Thiaw.
The team has been too inconsistent to pull this off. Spurs at home are incredibly good. I think the atmosphere will be too much for us and our one man attack is going to get marked out the game as it was easily exposed vs Fiore. And the pressure will be too much for us in the end.
But at the very least we’ll be able to concentrate on top 4