AC Milan aims to bring their domestic form onto Europe as they face Dinamo Zagreb, who are riding high after beating Chelsea.

The opening matchday of this season’s Champions League caused some notable shocks, with many other results taking precedence over what happened in Group E. AC Milan and Chelsea were the notable names here. Still, both teams dropped valuable points in the first game.

Milan could only manage a draw against RB Salzburg after Alexis Saelemaekers’ equaliser before halftime, the best Stefano Pioli’s men could achieve. The Rossoneri have been brilliant domestically in recent weeks, beating rivals Inter Milan and Sampdoria at the weekend.

Pioli hopes to bring the domestic form onto Europe to bring about a change in fortunes in their European adventures. However, they must face the challenge of Dinamo Zagreb, who will be eying another big scalp in this tournament.

Dinamo Zagreb made plenty of headlines last week when they defeated Chelsea at home in their Champions League opener. The win caused plenty of turbulence at the English club, leading to the dismissal of Thomas Tuchel.

They have not been in any inspirational form in Europe but have beat some notable teams in the last two seasons in the Europa League. Their record is not particularly food against Milan, having lost their four previous appearances against the Italians.

However, their domestic form has been inspiring, with eight wins and a draw. Add the Chelsea victory in the bag, and Dinamo Zagreb will head to Milan full of confidence and look to add another big name scalp on their stock of shocks in recent years, including Tottenham, Sevilla, and West Ham United.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Pioli could ring some changes to his Milan side that were victorious over Sampdoria. The idea is to refresh certain positions as the manager rested a few of his first team stars with the Dinamo clash in mind. One will be Fikayo Tomori coming in for Simon Kjaer in central defence.

Pioli has a few notable names out through injuries. Those include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alessandro Florenzi, Ante Rabic, Divock Origi and Rade Krunic. However, Milan still have sufficient firepower in their squad to offset those absent from this game.

The second change might come in midfield with Ismael Benaccer replacing Tommaso Pogeba. Sandro Tonali will keep his place in the middle. The final shift could see Saelemaekers coming in for Junior Messias, who could have Oliver Giroud, Charles De Ketelaere, and Rafael Leao in the final third.

Leao, in particular, will have all eyes fixed on him after a brilliant two weeks. The Portuguese star has seen his stock rise after some bright displays, which has seen the winger combine well with De Ketelaere and Giroud to create a lethal partnership in the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1)Maignan; Calabria, Kalulu, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer, Tonali; Saelemaekers, De Ketelaere, Leao; Giroud

Dinamo Zagreb

Ante Cacic does not have many problems with his squad regarding injuries and suspension. The manager will be able to field the same lineup that beat Chelsea last week in an attempt to get a similar result against Milan.

All eyes will be on Zagreb star Mislav Orsic, who, with 18 goals to his name, is the club’s top European goalscorer. Besides that, the shape, setup, and personnel will remain precisely the same, with Cacic retaining a back three of Stefan Ristovski, Josip Sutalo, and Dino Peric.

Josip Music will continue to anchor the midfield with Luka Ivanusec and Arijan Ademi providing support on either side. Sadegh Moharrami and Robert Ljubicic will play on as wing backs in support of an attacking two comprising Orsic and Bruno Petkovic.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2)Livakovic; Ristovski, Sutalo, Peric; Moharrami, Ivanusec, Misic, Ademi, Ljubicic; Petkovic, Orisic

Key Stats

  • Dinamo Zagreb have won 5 of their last 6 matches in the Champions League.
  • Dinamo Zagreb have lost their last 4 games against AC Milan in European competitions.
  • Dinamo Zagreb have won consecutive games in the Champions League once in their history.
  • AC Milan have failed to win 9 of their last 10 matches in the Champions League.
  • AC Milan’s last victory in the competition was against Celtic in 2013.

Player to Watch

Rafael Leao

Embed from Getty Images

The Portuguese winger has seen his stock rise recently as he continued his impressive performances from last season. The attacker scored and assisted against Milan and was pivotal against Sampdoria at the weekend.

All eyes will be on Leao as Milan looks to improve their recent dismal record in the Champions League. Pioli would want the winger to shine bright as he aims to take advantage of a group that looks open right now, and the Portuguese star will be critical to the Rosonerri’s chances in midweek.

Prediction

AC Milan 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Milan certainly has the edge over the opponents regarding squad quality and holds the home advantage. However, the situation is very similar to Chelsea, who were superior on paper but faltered in the game eventually. Pioli will be aiming to take lessons from that game to get a result of his own against the Croatians.

Zagreb will be riding high on confidence against this Milan side, knowing the opposition has problems performing in Europe. No matter how some of their record against top sides may seem, Zagreb have only once won consecutive games in this competition in their history, which points towards a narrow win for Milan at the San Siro.

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