Two giants of European history meet for a first ever competitive encounter outside of a final
Despite the two clubs being among the most successful handful of teams in European Cup history, they have only ever met twice in competitive games – the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals. This occasion, then, will be a rather different one and a first visit for the Serie A giants to Anfield. Neither one has lost a match yet this term, with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in the group level on points at the top of the Premier League and the Rossoneri similarly positioned in Italy’s top flight.
This fixture marks a return for Milan to Europe’s top competition after a nine-year absence, while Liverpool were champions in 2019 and exited last year at the quarter-final stage against Real Madrid. They’ll be hoping to go further this year, though, given the defensive absences through injury they had to cope with at the time and the subsequent signing of Ibrahima Konate to boost their ranks.
Follow live updates of the Champions League Group B encounter between Liverpool and AC Milan below:
A long wait for Milan
AC Milan are making their first appearance in the Champions League group stage since 2013-14. This is the 18th time they have featured and they are just four behind Juventus’s Italian record of 22.
Milan’s last 11 Champions League campaigns have all extended into the knockout rounds, although five of the last six ended in the round of 16.
In their last Champions League campaign the Rossoneri were beaten by Atlético Madrid in the last 16 having finished second in their group behind Barcelona, picking up nine points from their six matches.
But now, the seven-time European Cup champions are back and they stand in Liverpool’s way.
Liverpool under Klopp
Liverpool are in the Champions League group stage for the 14th time; they have only failed to progress to the last 16 or further three times before.
This is the Red’s fifth successive group campaign under Jürgen Klopp. They finished as runners-up to Real Madrid in the 2017-18 final and claimed their sixth European Cup at the expense of Tottenham with a 2-0 victory in the 2018-19 final.
Liverpool’s last two Champions League campaigns have ended in defeat against clubs from Madrid. They went out to Atlético in the 2019-20 round of 16 and last year lost to Real Madrid in the quarterfinals.
Jordan Henderson sends message to Simon Kjaer after role in saving Christian Eriksen’s life
Ahead of AC Milan’s clash with Liverpool this evening, Reds captain Jordan Henderson has told Denmark skipper Simon Kjaer he has “the respect and admiration of everyone in football” for the part he played in saving team-mate Christian Eriksen’s life.
The Denmark captain came to Christian Eriksen’s assistance when he suffered a cardiac arrest.
Klopp on Group B
Jurgen Klopp has spoken about how hard he expects this Champions League group stage to be claiming that this is the strongest group he’s been a part of whilst at Liverpool.
“This is the strongest group we’ve had since I’ve been at Liverpool,” said the German. “In 2012-2013 at Dortmund, I think we had Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax – that was a proper group.
“This group keeps out two really good teams from knockouts and delivers one strong team to the Europa League.
“I never understand when people talk about changes to the Champions League. I like the Champions League how it is and this group shows there are no games where people will think ‘do I really want to watch that’.
“It will be exciting from the first second to the last second. I can’t see any kind of early decisions made in this group.”
Team news – Changes
Jurgen Klopp makes four changes to the Liverpool team that defeated Leeds 3-0 at the weekend.
Harvey Elliott suffered a broken ankle during that game so he’s out and Thiago Alcantara drops to the bench. Replacing them in the midfield are club captain Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita.
Joe Gomez is given a first start of the season as he takes the place of Virgil van Dijk alongside Joel Matip and up top Divock Origi comes in for Sadio Mane.
Team news – Liverpool
Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Jota, Origi
AC Milan XI: Maignan; Calabria, Kjaer, Tomori, Theo Hernandez; Saelemaekers, Kessie, Brahim Diaz, Bennacer, Rafael Leao; Rebic
Liverpool vs AC Milan
The Reds have met the Rossoneri just twice before with both times coming in the Champions League final. Liverpool won the first meeting before Milan achieved payback in the second.
The second time the two teams met was in the 2006-07 final in Athens. A man of the match performance from Filippo Inzaghi saw him claim two goals before Dirk Kuyt netted a late consolation goal for Liverpool.
But it is the first meeting between these two European giants that is better remembered.
Paolo Maldini opened the scoring in the first minute and Hernan Crespo added two more before half-time to put Milan 3-0 at the break. Liverpool responded in kind after the restart. Steven Gerrard struck in the 54th minute and six minutes later the Reds were level at 3-3 as Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso both found the back of the net. Extra-time came and went but it was Liverpool who emerged victorious, winning 3-2 on penalties to complete a great European comeback.
Tough group for Liverpool
Liverpool have a difficult task ahead of them to make it into the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League. Tonight they face European giants AC Milan but they’re also paired with La Liga champions Atletico Madrid and Champions League regulars Porto.
Seven-time European champions Milan are making their first appearance in the Champions League since 2014 and head to Anfield with a 100% record in the Italian top flight after winning their first three fixtures this season.
But there’s nothing like European nights to get the Anfield faithful onside. This one should be a cracker.
Zlatan out for Milan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss tonight’s Champions League fixture against Liverpool as the forward is out with an Achilles tendon problem.
The 39-year-old only returned from injury in AC Milan’s win over Lazio last Sunday but his injury flared up again after the game.
“After the match he had some inflammation,” said Milan’s coach Stefano Pioli.
“We hoped he could play but he still had pain so we don’t want to risk [playing him].”
Liverpool vs Milan evokes mixed memories of defining match-ups
Some games define the direction of a club’s future. Liverpool’s previous Champions League matches against Milan – both finals – are in this category. The teams meet for just the third time on Wednesday night at Anfield in the competition’s group stage and the memories evoked by the match-up are mixed, to say the least.
The Miracle of Istanbul in 2005 will forever be remembered as one of the most famous nights in the history of European football. Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time, recovered to level the score, took the game into extra time and eventually prevailed on penalties. It was a joyous night for British football that captured global attention.
The rematch two years later in Athens was Istanbul’s evil twin. Nothing about it was uplifting. Rafa Benitez and his team squandered a massive opportunity to become continental champions for the sixth time. The behaviour of some Liverpool fans was appalling and dangerous. And the 2-1 defeat was the spark for an Anfield civil war whose ramifications are still being felt.
Wednesday’s Champions League group-stage game is unlikely to be a landmark match for either side – unlike the 2005 and 2007 finals