Liverpool and AC Milan will kick off their 2021-22 Champions League campaign with an exhilarating clash at Anfield.
The Rossoneri return to Europe’s biggest stage after a seven-year absence and face off against Liverpool in a repeat of the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals.
The clubs have met each other on two previous occasions in European competition, both of them being Champions League finals.
The Reds won 3-2 on penalties in 2005 after falling 3-0 behind at half-time, but Milan gained revenge with a 2-1 victory two years later.
Under Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool has only lost one out of 12 games at Anfield in the Champions League group stage, having been beaten 2-0 by Atalanta last season.
This will be Milan’s first Champions League match since March 2014, when they were eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the round of 16.
Last season the Rossoneri only won two of their eight games in the Europa League and they were knocked out by Manchester United in the round of 16.
Teenager Harvey Elliot joined Roberto Firmino and Neco Williams on Liverpool’s injury list after suffering a horrific injury during their last game versus Leeds.
Alisson Becker and Fabinho were able to play at Elland Road after FIFA waived their ban on Brazilians who travelled to South America over the international break.
The Rossoneri will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic again after he picked up an Achilles tendon injury during training. The Swede returned against Lazio after a 4-month absence and it only took him seven minutes to find the back of the net.
Loanee Tiemoue Bakayoko lasted only thirteen minutes on his Milan return before going off injured and midfielder Rade Krunić remains out.
Former Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud should be fit to play after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.
Jordan Henderson will likely return following Elliot’s injury and accompany Thiago and Fabinho in the midfield. With Firmino yet to recover from a hamstring injury, Diogo Jota will continue to lead the line.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane.
The visitors will welcome Simon Kjaer back to the starting XI, who will partner Fikayo Tomori in front of Mike Maignon.
With the uncertainty surrounding Giroud’s fitness, Ante Rebic will likely start up top before eventually making way for the Frenchman in the second half.
AC Milan (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Florenzi, Diaz, Leao; Rebic.
With both of these European giants eager to carry their recent domestic success to Europe’s premier competition, a closely fought affair should be expected.
This is a perfect test of where AC Milan are at after their recent rise in form, but their lack of depth up front and in midfield should prevent them from having a dominant display.
Liverpool have the edge on experience and depth and it should prove enough to seal a victory for them at Anfield.
Liverpool 2-0 AC Milan.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com.
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