Newcastle United are back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time in over 20 years and begin against one of last season’s semi-finalists. It’s our AC Milan vs Newcastle United prediction and preview.
AC Milan vs Newcastle United: The Quick Hits
- Our pre-match prediction has Milan as narrow favourites heading into this one, according to the Opta supercomputer, with a 40.7% chance of victory at San Siro.
- This will be Newcastle’s first Champions League campaign since the 2002-03 season, while Milan are in their third in a row following a seven-year absence.
- Sandro Tonali returns to his former club having played more minutes in the Champions League than any other Milan player last season.
Milan are old hands at the UEFA Champions League, with this being their 20th campaign in the competition overall, the second most of any Italian side after Juventus (23).
Like their first opponents in this year’s edition, Newcastle United, Milan had a period away from Champions League football when going seven seasons without it between 2014-15 and 2020-21, though this will be their third consecutive campaign since their return.
Newcastle’s absence was a smidge longer. The Magpies haven’t graced the Champions League since the 2002-03 season, but they’re back now and what a way to return.
as they look to disrupt Europe’s elite but have been handed one of the trickier groups, finding themselves in Group F with Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain.
Newcastle’s 20 years and 184 days between Champions League outings will be the longest gap for an English side in the competition, in what will be just their third campaign ever (after 1997-98 and 2002-03), and they will likely be eager to make up for lost time. They will need to improve on their predecessors’ away form in the competition though, having won two and lost five on their travels in their previous two Champions League experiences (D2).
Milan will likely be confident of progressing to the knockout stage despite a tough draw. Only once in their past 14 Champions League campaigns have they failed to get past the first-round group stage, though they were also drawn into a group with an English team that year (Liverpool in 2021-22).
The Rossoneri have won their last two games in the group stage in the Champions League and will be looking to win three in a row for the first time since September 2006 under Carlo Ancelotti.
Newcastle lost their first three group games in their last appearance in the Champions League in 2002-03, becoming the first team to do so but still progress to the next round, with Atalanta in 2019-20 the only side to have achieved this since.
The obvious dangerman for the hosts will be Rafael Leão. Only Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior (47) made more successful take-ons in the Champions League last season than Leão (39), while the Portugal winger had both the most expected goals (1.2) and expected assists (1.2) following take-ons of any player in the competition last term.
There will, of course, also be a swift return to San Siro for Sandro Tonali, who joined Newcastle from Milan just a couple of months ago. Tonali played in all 12 of Milan’s games in the Champions League last season en route to the last four. His total of 1,053 minutes played was not only the most of any Milan player, but the most of any outfielder overall in the 2022-23 competition.
AC Milan vs Newcastle United Head-to-Head
Milan and Newcastle have never met before in a competitive game. The Rossoneri have won just one of their last 11 matches against English teams (D2 L8), but that sole victory came last season when they beat Tottenham in the Champions League last 16 (1-0 at the San Siro).
Newcastle had not won any of their first four visits to Italian teams (D2 L2) but did emerge victorious in their fifth and last such occasion, beating Palermo 1-0 in the 2006-07 UEFA Cup.
It has been an up-and-down start to the season for both teams. Milan began well enough, with wins against Bologna, Torino and Roma in their first three games, but they were humbled by rivals Inter on Saturday.
The Nerazzurri ran out 5-1 winners in the Derby della Madonnina, opening old wounds for Stefano Pioli’s side after Inter had also beaten them comfortably in last season’s Champions League semi-finals.
Newcastle began their Premier League campaign with a 5-1 win over Aston Villa, before losing three in a row to Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton prior to the international break.
They got back to winning ways on Saturday, though, with a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to Brentford; a Callum Wilson penalty was enough to secure three points and end their losing run.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off in Milan on Tuesday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides:
AC Milan vs Newcastle United Prediction
While Milan are made favourites by the Opta supercomputer, it is a close run thing, with Pioli’s side given a 40.7% chance of victory. The visitors have a 34.6% likelihood of winning, which should raise optimism for the travelling fans.
A draw comes in at just 24.7%. That could be down to the fact neither team have drawn a game so far this season out of nine outings between them.
Milan are judged to have only a 10.2% likelihood of again reaching the semi-finals, and a 1.3% chance of winning their eighth Champions League/European Cup. Newcastle have a slightly better 1.6% probability of going all the way.
AC Milan vs Newcastle United UCL Squads
AC Milan: Mike Maignan, Marco Sportiello, Antonio Mirante, Davide Calabria, Theo Hernández, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Simon Kjær, Malick Thiaw, Mattia Caldara, Alessandro Florenzi, Yacine Adli, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tijjani Reijnders, Tommaso Pobega, Rade Krunić, Yunus Musah, Olivier Giroud, Rafael Leão, Christian Pulisic, Luka Jović, Noah Okafor, Samu Chukwueze.
Head Coach: Stefano Pioli.
Newcastle United: Martin Dúbravka, Loris Karius, Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Paul Dummett, Sven Botman, Fabian Schär, Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Targett, Tino Livramento, Dan Burn, Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes, Lewis Hall, Miguel Almirón, Sean Longstaff, Bruno Guimarães, Joelinton, Callum Wilson, Anthony Gordon, Alexander Isak, Jacob Murphy, Joe Willock.
Head Coach: Eddie Howe.