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10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. AC Milan as Champions League returns

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The 2005 and 2007 Champions League finalists meet in the group stage for the very first time and a boisterous Anfield crowd will be lying in wait as Liverpool meet AC Milan.

Here’s our match preview with 10 key things you need to know ahead of the Reds’ opening Champions League game of the season…

 

Milan are…

2GK00JX Milan, Italy, 12th September 2021. Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan reacts during the Serie A match at Giuseppe Meazza, Milan. Picture credit should read: Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage

For the first time since 2013/14, AC Milan are dining at the top table of European football.

Liverpool remain undefeated in 2021/22 to date, but so do Milan. Their 100 percent record in Serie A seems them nestled at the top of the table alongside Roma and Napoli.

In their three games to date, they have scored seven and conceded just one – with Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud leading the way with two goals each.

But the Reds are a different kettle of fish.

 

Any absences for either squad?

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 12, 2021: Liverpool's players look on as Harvey Elliott receives treatment for an injury before being carried off during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Harvey Elliott is the notable absentee with surgery required after he dislocated his ankle at Leeds, denying him a possible Champions League bow.

Roberto Firmino remains in the treatment room, as too Neco Williams and Takumi Minamino to limit Klopp’s options, with his XI all but picking itself.

For Milan, meanwhile, the big news is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is to miss the trip due to an Achilles injury. Giroud is now expected to start after his recovery from coronavirus.

Tiemoue Bakayoko and Rade Krunic remain sidelined.

 

The pinnacle meetings

This is a meeting of European royalty, with 13 titles between the two clubs and Wednesday will mark their first competitive meeting not to take place in a final.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard scores Liverpool's first goal, Istanbul, 2005 Final (Rebecca Naden/PA Archive/PA Images)

The night in Istanbul will forever be etched in club folklore but Milan would get their revenge just two years later in Athens, without a dramatic flair, to even the ledger.

There is no silverware on offer on the night, but the road to Saint Petersburg starts here.

 

No. 20 for Mane?

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 12, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané (2nd from L) celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a mixed bag from Sadio Mane at Elland Road having been in all the right places before his final ball let him down, with his 10th shot of the afternoon finally reaping a goal.

And another strike that finds the net against Milan will see the winger notch his 20th in the Champions League, a tally that would see him join Mohamed Salah, Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba as the only African players to reach that milestone.

 

It’s a “must-watch”

You heard the boss!

“If you would think of any European battle, then I think Liverpool vs. AC Milan is a must watch! It’s one you want to see,” Klopp told reporters in his pre-match press conference.

“It will be a tough game for both sides.”

That it will, but Klopp is certainly looking forward to having the power of Anfield on his side once more on a Champions League night.

“We spoke a lot in the past, rightly so, about the European nights at Anfield and I cannot wait to experience that now! It will be great and I’m really looking forward to it!”

 

Elsewhere in Group B

Atletico Madrid will host Porto at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, with kickoff scheduled for the same time as the match at Anfield – 8pm (BST). One to keep an eye on.

 

AC Milan’s XI could look like this…

The Italian’s could set for just one change from their weekend win over Lazio, with ex-Chelsea man Giroud making his return in a side that looks like this:

Maignan; Calabria, Romagnoli, Tomori, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Florenzi, Diaz, Leao; Giroud

 

Did you know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 2, 2019: Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop with a banner "Champions of Europe" during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool FC and FC Salzburg at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the 28 European games Klopp has overseen at Anfield since Liverpool‘s return to continental action, only two have ended in defeat.

Atletico Madrid and Atalanta take the credit for those blemishes, but the Reds’ superiority on home soil is undeniable – more so when you consider the latter was with no fans present.

Fortress Anfield will have a big part to play on Wednesday and throughout the campaign.

 

We know this ref…

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, February 18, 2020: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' is spoken to by referee Szymon Marciniak during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Szymon Marciniak (POL) is the man in the middle at Anfield and we last saw him oversee the away leg at Atletico Madrid in 2020 and the trip to PSG in the group stages in 2018/19.

You may still have bald patches from pulling your hair out with some of his decisions so perhaps find another coping mechanism this time around as it could be a frustrating evening at Anfield.

 

How can I watch?

The match is live on BT Sport 2 in the UK, with coverage starting at 7pm (BST) ahead of the 8pm (BST) kickoff on Wednesday.

You can also follow all the action with us on This Is Anfield on our completely and unapologetically biased liveblog, with post-match analysis and reaction swiftly following full-time.


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