AC Milan vs Red Bull Salzburg Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

AC Milan will need a point to seal qualification into the knockout stages when they host Red Bull Salzburg at San Siro.

Heading into Matchday 5, Group E was one of the open groups in this edition of the Champions League. Chelsea, AC Milan, Red Bull Salzburg, and Dinamo Zagreb went in with a chance to qualify for the next round, but only the Blues made their case. Graham Potter’s side’s narrow victory over Salzburg meant they secured their place in the knockout rounds.

Milan desperately needed a positive result in Croatia and will be pleased with the outcome. The Rossoneri ensured they put Dinamo Zagreb to the sword with an impressive 4-0 victory away from home. Stefano Pioli’s side only needs a point against Red Bull Salzburg to secure qualification.

However, their preparations for the Salzburg game could have been better after losing to Torino in Serie A. The defeat not only dented their confidence but also let league leaders Napoli open a six-point lead at the top. Milan have slipped to third in the league but remain in charge of their fate in Europe. A point or a win will do against Salzburg, but Pioli will aim for the latter.

Salzburg come to Milan in a tricky spot. Their loss to Chelsea puts them under pressure to beat Milan. In the scenario they lose, the Austrian giants will hope Dinamo Zagreb will also suffer defeat in the game against Chelsea, for it guarantees their place in the Europa League.

The visitors will hope to qualify for the knockout rounds for a second consecutive season. However, it will take a fearless and famous victory at San Siro to make that happen. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

AC Milan

Injuries have prevented Stefano Pioli from picking a consistent lineup throughout this season. The AC Milan manager, who has signed a new deal, will aim to celebrate the partnership with a win and qualification to the Round of 16. He could change a few players from the Torino defeat.

There is still no respite with injuries for Pioli. As many as five players remain absent, including Mike Maignan. Ciprian Tatarusanu will continue between the sticks, with Matteo Gabbia and Simon Kjaer expected to pair up at the heart of the AC Milan defence.

The latter will replace Fikayo Tomori in the starting eleven. Pierre Kalulu and Theo Hernandez will keep their places in the full-back positions. Tommaso Pobega might drop to the bench after a sub-par outing against Torino, with Ismael Bennacer likely preferred to partner Sandro Tonali.

Ante Rebic could replace Junior Messias on the right wing, while Charles de Ketelaere might start ahead of Brahim Diaz. Olivier Giroud should lead the line for AC Milan instead of Divock Origi, while Rafael Leao will bomb down the left flank.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Tonali, Bennacer; Rebic, De Ketelaere, Leao; Giroud

Red Bull Salzburg

Similar to AC Milan, Red Bull Salzburg are missing several players ahead of the trip to San Siro. Junior Adamu, who scored the equaliser against Chelsea, remains a doubt along with Oumar Solet. The duo is struggling with thigh injuries, although the former could still feature if he passes a late test.

If Adamu remains absent, Benjamin Sesko might start in the strike partnership. Maximilian Wober could battle with the captain and 36-year-old left-back Andreas Ulmer at the back. The former could also play midfield, proving a handful if injuries pile up.

Red Bull Salzburg will set out with a three-man midfield unit. Nicolas Seiwald, Lucas Gourna-Douath and Maurits Kjaergaard could be those players, with Luka Sucic reprising the advanced role. Sesko could partner with Noah Okafor in a front two.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Kohn; Dedic, Bernardo, Pavlovic, Wober; Seiwald, Gourna-Douath, Kjaergaard; Sucic; Sesko, Okafor

Key Stats

  • AC Milan are unbeaten in all three of their meetings with Red Bull Salzburg in European competition (W2 D1), with all three of those games coming in the UEFA Champions League. They did play a stalemate in this season’s reverse fixture (1-1), however, after winning the first two.

Player to Watch

Rafael Leao

Embed from Getty Images

All eyes will be fixed on AC Milan when they take on Red Bull Salzburg. The Austrian giants have been very good this season, but a player like Leao is essential to unlocking their defence. The Portuguese international, growing in stature, will have to be at his best.

The attacker could make history by sending AC Milan through to the next round. Leao has been tremendous for them over the past 18 months, but these are games that matter the most. Milan will hope the talismanic winger fires on all cylinders and gets the critical goals they need to progress.


AC Milan 2-1 Red Bull Salzburg

AC Milan will feel optimistic heading into the clash against Red Bull Salzburg, although the pressure will be on both teams. Taking home advantage into account, the Rossoneri certainly have a huge boost, but Salzburg will be at their best.

In terms of quality, AC Milan have the firepower to dislodge the defences of any team. Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud will hope to fire the home team into the next round, and they might do so with a narrow win at San Siro.

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