Football Features

Liverpool vs AC Milan predictions & preview: Champions League group B

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 10:54, 14 September 2021

On Wednesday we will get a rematch of one of the all-time Champions League classics as Liverpool host AC Milan at Anfield.

This will be the first time the two sides have met in any kind of match since 2016, and their first competitive match together for 14 years. Here are five things we think will happen.

1. Liverpool’s starting XI should be…

The Reds are an uncomplicated side. Their first XI mostly just picks itself at the moment and it should be no different for the Milan game. Alisson will be in goal behind Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson provide the width in attack from full-back.

Midfield will see Fabinho anchor while Thiago and captain Jordan Henderson line-up ahead of him with the latter providing cover to Alexander-Arnold on the right while Thiago adds thrust and creativity. In attack it’ll be the supreme Mohamed Salah and the bizarrely profligate Sadio Mané flanking Diogo Jota, who retains his spot by default as Roberto Firmino is still out injured.

2. Milan’s starting XI should be…

Milan’s return to the top table of Europe could not have seen them draw a more apt opponent than Liverpool and while there will be a couple of absences the Rossoneri should be close to full strength. That means Ligue 1 winner Mike Maignan continues in goal behind Fikayo Tomori and Euro 2020 superhero Simon Kjaer (whose father is a Liverpool fan).

Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez will provide width from full-backs, with Hernandez in particular being a hurricane of attacking pressure that will relish the space Liverpool tend to leave on their right. Anchoring the midfield are likely to be Franck Kessie and Sandro Tonali. Kessie is the box-to-box engine of the side, while Tonali is finally coming into his own as the side’s regista after a tricky debut season.

Ahead of them Brahim Diaz will continue to be the little lightning bolt that sparks Milan to life, flanked by the ever-improving Rafael Leao and Alessandro Florenzi, who should beat out Alexis Saelemakers for the right-wing slot.

Up-front Olivier Giroud should return to the starting XI, with Ante Rebic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both available as deadly options off the bench should Milan need to turn the tide of the game in the second-half.

3. Salah should strut his stuff

No Liverpool player has scored more goals in the Champions League than Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has notched 25 times for the Reds, including four in his last five European games (he has 32 across all his whole career). Now he comes into this match in tremendous form in the Premier League where he has started things off with three goals and two assists in his opening four games.

Salah’s ability to dribble, create, penetrate and score makes him almost impossible to fully cover. He only scored once in the three games he played against AC Milan for Roma, but has cleared out almost every opponent while in Liverpool red that he will be fully confident of ripping the Rossoneri to bits and surpassing Samuel Eto’o (33) as the UEFA Champions League’s second-highest scoring African.

He’s got a bit of work left to surpass Didier Drogba (44) and take top spot, but you wouldn’t put it past him.

Liverpool vs AC Milan: Mohamed Salah odds from William Hill

  • Mohamed Salah to score first (7/2)
  • Mohamed Salah to score anytime (17/20)
  • Mohamed Salah to score 2+ goals (9/2)

Odds correct at time of publication (10:45, 14/09/21). You have to be 18+ to gamble. Be Gamble Aware.

4. Giroud likely to go hard

Prior to the game, all the focus and attention will be on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The colossal Swede is a former Manchester United player and a being of superhuman charisma and physical prowess; he also scored at the weekend!

However, Ibrahimovic isn’t the main man Liverpool have to fear, that’s the unheralded Olivier Giroud. The French forward missed the weekend’s action but should be fine to make the trip to Anfield where he will set out to continue his fine form against the Reds.

In his 16 games against Liverpool, Giroud has scored eight times. And while he hasn’t won at Anfield since 2012, he has scored four goals in his last three starts there, earning two draws in the process. Giroud is so good at sneaking into the box unnoticed and finding space to get a shot off that you can imagine he will get more than one chance to bag another Anfield goal.

5. Revenge for The Revenge?

The last two times Liverpool and Milan have met in competitive action were the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals. In 2005, Milan were one of the three best sides in the world and Liverpool were a ramshackle outfit that finished level on points with Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League (seriously, look it up) and yet, despite the Rossoneri racing to a 3-0 half-time lead, Liverpool won.

The manner of that comeback and the subsequent penalty shootout victory are the stuff of legend but stung Milan greatly. And when both sides met again two years later, with Liverpool now a growing force of greatness and Milan starting to fade, the Rossoneri got their revenge. A 2-1 victory thanks to Pippo Inzaghi poaching two goals.

Now they finally meet again, and while none of the Liverpool players or coaches were at the club back in 2007 (hell, only James Milner was even playing at the pro level, Klopp was still at Mainz) there will be a sense of revenge in the air at Anfield.

And in all honesty, it’s revenge the Reds are likely to get. Even with Giroud and Zlatan and all their improvements under Stefano Pioli, Liverpool are a bridge too far for Milan. Klopp’s men have got too much firepower to be contained by Milan, and with fans packing into the ground again the Magical Anfield Atmosphere should drive the Liverpool boys into overdrive.

Liverpool vs AC Milan odds from William Hill

  • Liverpool to win (1/2)
  • Draw (7/2)
  • AC Milan to win (5/1)

Odds correct at time of publication (10:45, 14/09/21). You have to be 18+ to gamble. Be Gamble Aware.