Opta journalist has Milan as favourites against Newcastle but warns them of threat

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan are the favourites for the Champions League game against Newcastle United at San Siro but they must watch out for the dangerous forwards the visitors have.

Last season, Milan made it to the UCL semi-finals, only to be knocked-out by bitter rivals, Inter Milan.

Milan begin their European campaign for 2023-24 with a match against Newcastle, a team back in the UCL for the first time in 20 years. It is an early kick-ff at the San Siro (18:45 CEST), so if you’re one of Milan’s younger fans and have school work building up, you could get help from EduBirdie, who can ‘write assignment for me‘ giving you the freedom you need to watch the game and the peace of mind that your work will be completed 100% plagiarism free.

MilanNews interviewed Andrea Locorotondo – a Data Journalist for Opta in England who knows both the Premier League and Serie A well – in view of this evening’s game at San Siro.

Milan-Newcastle is scheduled for Tuesday. Who do you see as favourite?

“Two different paths, two diametrically opposed starts to the season. Yet, Milan and Newcastle seem to be united by the objective of having to have their say in Europe to confirm their identity, the Rossoneri, and create one beyond the land of Albion, Newcastle.

“Starting with the visitors: only two victories in five Premier League matches. Not exactly the initial path that the Magpies fans were expecting after rubbing their eyes throughout last season; although it must be said that at the end of last season Howe’s men seemed to have run out of fuel this season.

“However, be careful to put the data into context. Newcastle have had a difficult calendar so far with Manchester City (A), Liverpool (H) and Brighton (A), probably the teams that will be able to finish in the top three places in the final Premier League table.

“Three defeats which in my opinion have reduced the dreams of finishing in the Top 4 again. On the other hand, a Milan that didn’t have much time to “lick their wounds” from the derby.

“However, the combination of San Siro + European Night is perfect for the Rossoneri, who have already shown in these Champions League evenings that they can be positive protagonists, knowing that on the other side there is a strong team, but with many players debuting in this prestigious competition. Therefore, I see Milan as the favourite.”

Does this match against the Magpies come at the worst moment for the Rossoneri after the defeat in the derby?

“Not necessarily. It’s true, no one likes losing a derby. Let alone with the margin with which the Rossoneri were beaten. However, in my opinion the progress of Pioli’s men is positive at the moment.

“We are still talking about a Milan that are third in the table and we are still only at the fourth round of the season. Given the path that Pioli’s Milan is taking, I believe that the Rossoneri have more maturity in metabolising a defeat like the one in the derby and starting again from the positive things seen before the international break.”

Can Harvey Barnes worry the right side, made up of Loftus-Cheek and Calabria?

“Harvey is an exceptional player. And yes, he could create more than a few problems on the right wing of Milan. I had the pleasure of seeing him grow in the ranks of Leicester and I’m really happy that has come to play a Champions League match. He deserves it.

“Barnes is the classic left-footed winger who likes to cut into the area once he gets to the last 25 metres: where many players converge to attack the area, he instead continues towards the goal and then enter the area from the back and serve the strikers.

“Without the ball, he is excellent at insertions. The curling shot to the far post is his best weapon. I believe that Loftus-Cheek will have to help Calabria a lot to make his marking job easier and reading.”

Sandro Tonali will return to San Siro for the first time as an opponent. How do you rate his start to the season in the Premier League? And how do you think it will be received by the fans?

“I believe that a large part of the AC Milan fans still have feelings of love for the boy. I don’t think he will have a ‘nightmarish’ welcome. His start to the season has been sufficient.

“Perhaps scoring on his debut has ‘excited’ him the Newcastle fans and created greater expectations on the boy. Tonali is not a goalscorer, we know this, but he is someone who knows how to make the team move.

“In a league that is new for him, very physical and fast like that of the Premier League, he needs time to settle in (not all players are like Haaland) and, I repeat, the Magpies’ calendar certainly did not help the Brescia talent to integrate fully into Howe’s game with the necessary timing.

“When you have to face City, Liverpool and Brighton one after the other ‘otherwise you always have to go full speed. So, so far, enough.”

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