THE FIERCEST EUROPEAN RIVALRY

THE FIERCEST EUROPEAN RIVALRY

LIVERPOOL VS AC MILAN

Liverpool host AC Milan with both teams having enjoyed a blistering start in their respective league seasons so far.

 

 

The Reds have won three and drawn the other as Jurgen Klopp and co.aim to be an early pacesetter. Mo Salah notched up 100 Premier League goals over the weekend, continuing his fearsome partnership with Sadio Mane up top.

 

 

The defence has been airtight from open play so far with the return of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip. Though there have a lot of comments on their lack of spending in the transfer window, they have all their bases covered which will no doubt give them confidence in order to win a tricky encounter first up.

 

 

Stefano Pioli’s men were brilliant over the backend of last season and have kept that momentum going strong. With three wins from three and only one goal conceded, they currently lead the Serie A table. Their ability to continuously press their opponents and attack at breakneck speed has been tremendously successful.

 

 

The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored at the weekend, is a major boost in their attack while Mike Maignan has proved to be an able replacement for Gianluigi Donnarumma at the back.

 

TEAM NEWS

Harvey Elliott suffered a horrific ankle injury against Leeds which will sideline him for months to come. Jordan Henderson came on for the youngster and will all but continue midweek as well.

 

 

PROBABLE LINE-UP: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Mane, Salah, Jota

 

Tiemoue Bakayoko, who was targeted by racist abuse, had to be substituted off with an apparent ankle injury just 13 minutes after coming on against Lazio. Ibrahimovic looks certain to start.

 

 

PROBABLE LINE-UP: Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Kjaer, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Rebic, Diaz, Leao; Ibrahimovic

 

GAMECHANGERS

Keeping the squabbling over his position aside, there is no doubt how good of a creator Trent Alexander-Arnold is currently. He has already made 20 chances, out of which four have been goal-scoring ones (both are league-high) and racked up two assists. Furthermore, he has also been involved in 28 shot-creating actions which comes as no surprise given how high up he plays.

 

 

His unerring accuracy from crosses and set-piece acumen mean that Milan will be keenly aware of not letting him roam free. Alexander-Arnold’s positional freedom from all over the midfield and right flank make those not so easy. His quick pace and ability to find pockets of passing through which to set attackers off will be increasingly important against a formidable backline.

 

 

Despite the big Swede raring to go, it is the player in behind him who can prove to be the X-factor. Brahim Diaz has found himself right at home in Italy, having quickly become an established part of the lineup. He has a passing success of 89% which rockets to 94% over short and medium distances.

 

 

Diaz’s influential role is apparent given he has been involved in seven shot-creating and three goal-creating actions already. Given how forward minded Liverpool like to play, there will be spaces to exploit for Diaz, especially on the breaks. His low centre of gravity and quick movement will make his markers wary of challenging him and with runners alongside, he can either lay off the ball or just shoot himself.

 

PREDICTIONS

Both teams have started off strongly and this will be a tough tie to call on paper. The early momentum of the game will certainly help in deciding the winner. FootTheBall predicts a 2-1 win for Liverpool.

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