The group stage phase of UEFA Champions League 2021/22 is coming full circle. B this season’s Group B is thrown wide open with 3 teams vying for the second spot. Touted as the Group of Death by fans at the start of the tournament, the group has lived up to all the hype it promised. Barring Liverpool who has topped the group, the other three teams have their Champions League fate oscillating between hope and despair.
Why to Watch Out for
Two footballing cultures rich in heritage and tradition taking on each other in itself is a massive reason to tune in to this encounter. Having secured the keys to knockouts, Klopp’s men have the momentum to maintain, but AC Milan has everything to play for. Anything other than a win will nail the final coffin in the Champions League dream for the Rossoneri.
The clash against AC Milan is a welcome breather for Liverpool right in the middle of the congested fixture list. The UCL game is the 4th of the 5 games they are scheduled to play in the span of 15 days. Rotation will come into play and Jurgen Klopp will ensure all his key generals remain fit for the upcoming Premier League games. The return of James Milner and Naby Keita will be a big boost for the midfield. Tyler Morton’s impressive show against FC Porto could be rewarded with yet another outing at San Siro stadium. However, Klopp will make sure that the balance in the starting lineup remains intact as his team aims for a 100% win record in the group stage this season.
Formation : 4-3-3
Defense: Tsimikas, Konate, Phillips, Trent Arnold
Midfield: Fabinho, Oxlade- Chamberlian, Morton
Attack: Origi , Minamino , Salah
The home team couldn’t have asked for a tougher challenge than Liverpool to make it to the first knockout round entry since 2014. Even after losing the first three group games, somehow AC Milan is still in the mix of things to qualify for the round of 16. With the recent unfortunate injury ending Simon Kjaer’s season abruptly, the attack is now the only option they have going against the English royalty. Having said that, it is the kind of challenge Stefano Pioli relishes in a one-off game. The Italian giants are aware of the task at hand – win the game against Liverpool and hope that Atletico Madrid beat FC Porto by a margin not bigger than AC Milan themselves. While they don’t have the magic wand to control the latter criteria, expect AC Milan to play an attacking brand of football and do what they need to do.
Formation : 4-2-3-1
Defense: Kalulu , Romangnoli, Tomori, Theo Hernandez
CDM: Kessie, Tonali
Attack : Saelenmaekers , B.Diaz , Leao
Players to Watch Out for
With qualification to RO16 secured, Jurgen Klopp may choose to rest one or two of his attackers, likely Mo Salah. That makes a strong case for Divock Origi to cement only his fourth start of the season. Origi has one of the best shots on target to goal conversion rates among the LFC players this season and looks relatively sharper and more mobile than last year.
The only man who can propel AC Milan to the knockouts is the goalkeeper Mike Maignan. Irrespective of the team shuffle, Liverpool will come hard at AC Milan and the Rossoneri forwards will keep knocking the doors of goals, Maignan should expect himself to be busy at the other end. The fewer AC Milan concedes, the better will be their chances to advance. Maignan was one of the star performers in the reverse fixture, facing 7 shots and saving 5 of them, doing everything possible in his capacity to keep his team in the contest. The same, even better, would be expected of him for AC Milan to stand any chance of advancing to the next round.
All in all, the AC Milan vs Liverpool FC encounter promises to be yet another classic waiting to happen. The Italian giants have a chance to end their 7 years’ hiatus in the UCL knockouts. If not anything, the players have a chance to play for the crest on their sleeves and put up a fight so brave the heritage and history of the club would be proud of.
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