FC Porto and AC Milan will be eyeing their first wins in the Champions League this season when they meet at Estadio do Dragao on Tuesday.
FC Porto will be more than eager to secure the first win of their Champions League campaign, following two disappointing results so far. Their thrashing at the hands of Liverpool on the last matchday puts them in a tricky situation in the group, creating a tall order for them to oust one of the top two in the group.
They will take confidence from their domestic form, hoping to replicate it on the European stage. They did record a league win over Pacos de Ferreira despite being down to 10-men, while trounced Sintrense in the cup tie 5-0 to regain momentum to their otherwise excellent home form.
They did come into such a vein of form before the Liverpool clash but saw the Reds front three ran riot at the Estadio do Dragao. However, they will be hoping to take advantage of Milan’s current form in the Champions League to maintain the right distance with the table’s top two.
Visitors AC Milan have not started their Champions League campaign as they might have wanted after years out of the competition. Even with their positive performances in both their games, Milan are yet to secure their first points.
A scintillating opening matchday loss to Liverpool at Anfield gave them hopes of a better display against Atletico Madrid. However, they conceded a late goal against the Spanish champions, which has pinned them to the bottom of the group. Stefan Pioli will be hoping for a stale result between the table’s top two, coupled with a win for Milan to keep their chances alive in the group.
The next two games will be crucial for Milan, as this doubleheader will determine where they are headed. The outcomes are pretty straightforward – a place in the next round, Europa League or out of any continental competition. Milan hopes to keep momentum after a comeback win over Hellas Verona at the weekend in Serie A, although Porto has been formidable at home in recent months.
Team News & Tactics
— FC Porto (@FCPorto) October 18, 2021
Sergio Conceicao has several problems to deal with ahead of this high profile clash with Milan. While it’s still very unclear, several of his players could be unavailable due to fitness issues. Jesus Corona, Luis Diaz, Mateus Uribe and Chancel Mbemba are all cast as doubtful for the clash.
Meanwhile, Otavio, who limped off against Liverpool early on, is still not up to full fitness despite playing 60 minutes in a recent game. Otavio might have convinced the manager of his fitness and might start. Those others mentioned above, except for Mbemba, might also prove to be fit for a start eventually.
Conceicao could opt to play a traditional 4-4-2 system to keep Milan’s attackers in control. A back four consisting of Corona, veteran Pepe, Ivan Marcano and Sanusi could be apt for this clash. Diogo Costa is expected to play in goal for the home side.
Evanson and Sergio Oliviera are desperately pushing for starts after recent good performances. However, they might find it difficult to oust the strike pair of Mehdi Taremi and Toni Martinez.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Costa; Corona, Pepe, Marcano, Sanusi; Otavio, Grujic, Uribe, Diaz; Martinez, Taremi
Stefan Pioli has plenty of potential absentees to deal with ahead of the game. Tiemoue Bakayoko remains out of the clash, alongside Ante Rebic, who limped off against Hellas Verona at the weekend. Full-back Alessandro Florenzi is also out and joins goalkeeper Mike Maignan on the sidelines.
Franck Kessie will be a big miss, with the Ivorian missing due to his red card against Atletico Madrid. Antonio Mirante is also a big doubt for the Porto game, while the statuses of Theo Hernandez and Brahim Diaz remain unknown. However, they are considered doubts after missing the weekend action.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 18, 2021
Meanwhile, talismanic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems to have shaken off his recent injury concerns and looks ready to challenge Olivier Giroud for a starting berth. Pioli might opt to start the Swede immediately due to his rotational policy, meaning Giroud will find himself on the bench despite scoring at the weekend.
Sandro Tonali will keep his place alongside Ismael Bennacer in central midfield, While Alexis Saelemaekers and Rade Krunic could get another chance to impress in attack. Fikayo Tomori and Simon Kjaer will play in central defence, while Fode Ballo-Toure will deputise for Hernandez once more.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Ballo-Toure; Bennacer, Tonali; Saelemaekers, Krunic, Leao; Ibrahimovic
- AC Milan have lost their last 4-games in the Champions League
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in AC Milan’s last 3-games in the Champions League
- AC Milan have conceded at least 2-goals in their last 3-matches.
- Milan and Porto last met in the 2003 European Super Cup, which the Italians won.
- Porto have lost just once in their last 9-home games in all competitions.
Player to Watch
The timing behind the return of the big Swede might be good news for Milan, who desperately need the inspiration to guide them through this difficult group phase. With an overhead kick during his weekend cameo, the Swede certainly proved he is back to good fitness levels, but he needs to be making an impact fast.
Ibrahimovic will have to compete regularly with Giroud, and unfortunately for Milan, all their three important forwards face injury issues. The Swedish forward will have to ensure he remains fit for most parts and kick Milan into their next gear.
FC Porto 2-2 AC Milan
Recent games involving both sides in all competitions have seen plenty of goals scored. Though both sides have good attacking players, their defence have been similarly dodgy. Milan have had a mixed bag performance with comebacks in recent games, but they have shown resilience in attack when they go behind.
We are expecting both teams to entertain and score plenty of goals. However, there might be no winner here, while such a result could brew trouble for both sides in their quest for toppling the teams that sit above them.