Liverpool’s Champions League group stage closes out with a trip to San Siro and while the result may not have any bearing on the last 16, history beckons with a victory.
There was another injection of exhilaration over the weekend, with Divock Origi‘s late strike making it five wins on the spin in what has been an emphatic response from the sole defeat of the season.
But with those five games coming within the space of 14 days, a host of changes beckon for the Reds this time around as they look to become the first English club to win all six games in the Champions League group stage.
1. Back-to-back victories for Milan
It’s been a mixed bag for the Italian’s since their return from the November international break, having won three and lost two from their last five in all competitions.
But two of those victories have arrived in the last six days, with both Genoa (3-0) and Salernitana (2-0) comfortably dispatched to ensure they remain top of Serie A.
It’s a slender one-point lead over rivals Inter and they now face Liverpool with their Champions League place hanging in the balance at a ground they have scored at in each of their home games this season.
2. How could Milan lineup against the Reds?
Stefano Pioli has taken quite a few hits to his squad in recent weeks, with his attacking options taking the brunt of the injuries.
Pietro Pellegri, Rafael Leao, Olivier Giroud, Ante Rebic and Samu Castillejo are all expected to miss Tuesday’s game, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is anticipated to start after being rested on the weekend.
Right-back Davide Calabria is ruled out, as well as centre-back Simon Kjaer after suffering an ACL injury last week at Genoa.
But Mike Maignan’s recent return in goal is a boost for Milan after a spell out of the side with a wrist injury.
Possible AC Milan XI: Maignan; Florenzi, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Messias, Diaz, Saelemaekers; Ibrahimovic
3. Milner suspended
James Milner can take no part in Tuesday’s game after picking up a third booking against Porto in the last group game, but Klopp still has plenty of options.
Joe Gomez and Naby Keita are only likely to feature from the bench after missing the last seven games respectively, leaving only Roberto Firmino, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott in the treatment room.
With the festive schedule picking up its pace, having a near healthy squad is invaluable for Klopp and co. and expect him to use his options against the Italians.
4. Salah on another level
Mohamed Salah has scored as many goals this season, 19, as AC Milan’s top scorers Ibrahimovic (6), Rafael Leao (5), Brahim Diaz (4) and Giroud (4) combined.
A telling statistic that the No. 11 can extend on Tuesday night, and if he does find the net Salah will set a new club record for goals scored in the group stage of a European competition.
He currently has six, equal with Firmino’s tally in 2017/18, and in his current form, you’d expect nothing less.
5. But will Salah start?
Changes beckon for Liverpool with this their fourth game in 10 days, during which time Klopp turned primarily to his strongest possible XI.
With nothing riding on the result, Salah could be one of a handful of key faces handed a break with Thiago, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane in the same category.
Against Porto, Klopp utilised his squad and it was far from a weakened side and we could see something similar again after the manager stressed the Reds “have” to rotate.
6. The bigger picture of Group B
With Liverpool’s place in the last 16 already signed, sealed and delivered, it leaves a three-way battle for the second spot.
While only one point behind Porto, current runners-up, and tied with Atletico on four points, Milan’s fate is out of their own hands.
But should they beat Liverpool and Porto and Atletico Madrid draw, they would secure a place in the last 16.
Things could then be required to go into finer details should both Milan and Atletico win, first will be goal difference, then if needed the overall group stage goals and finally away goals scored will be the final tie-breaker.
7. Did you know?
This is only the third time Liverpool will have played at the historic San Siro, with the first back in 1965 with Bill Shankly and the last in 2008 under Rafa Benitez – both against Inter.
But this is the first time the Reds will play AC Milan at one of the most revered stadiums in world football, but their last visit and their next will likely have one thing in common.
8. Love for Origi
After his heroics over the weekend, much of the pre-match focus centred around Origi and Klopp had plenty of praise for the striker:
“How I said after the game, if you are not a starter for Liverpool you can still be a world-class player. It’s really possible.
“I know people see that from time to time slightly different but it’s possible. And in specific moments Div is absolutely outstanding and everybody was overly happy when he scored the goal.
“Not only because he scored the goal, but because he scored the goal. It’s a nice story and now let’s carry on from here.”
9. We’ve seen this ref before!
Danny Makkelie is the one who is to take charge of proceedings, overseeing Liverpool for the second time this season.
He reffed the home game against Atletico Madrid in the fourth group game, dishing out seven yellow cards and a red card that was shown Felipe’s way. Simply put, it was an interesting night of officiating.
10. Time to tune into BT Sport!
Tuesday’s match at San Siro is live on BT Sport 2 from 7.45pm (GMT), with kickoff to follow at 8pm.
This Is Anfield will also be on hand for worldwide streaming info pre-match so keep your eyes peeled!
Alternatively, our matchday live blog with Henry Jackson is the place to be and will have you covered pre-match and with minute by minute updates, all biased, of course, starting from 7.15pm.