Serie A champions Milan travel to London as they face Chelsea in Group E of the Champions League on Wednesday. Milan have made a solid start to both their domestic and European campaigns, whilst Chelsea have struggled to get going to start this season. So, let’s take a look at the match preview between Chelsea and Milan, covering form, head-to-head, team news and potential lineups.
Chelsea have not made the best starts to this year’s campaign and this led to the somewhat surprising sacking of head coach Thomas Tuchel just over a year on from winning the Champions League. Given the history of Chelsea’s managerial turnover, it may not have been much of a surprise after all.
Nonetheless, Graham Potter has come in as new head coach and took charge of his first Premier League match with the club on Saturday. He was able to guide them to a 2-1 victory away to Crystal Palace with Conor Gallagher snatching a late winner. Former Arsenal man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also scored his first goal for the club in the win. The Blues have just four wins from nine matches in all competitions so far this term and are in desperate need of getting things to click. And soon.
Milan have had a strong start to the season and have already got a mental advantage over rivals Inter after defeating them 3-2 at the San Siro at the beginning of September. They sit just three points behind league leaders Napoli after eight matches of the new season.
Olivier Giroud has made a fantastic start too, scoring four goals and assisting once in Serie A so far this term. Rafael Leao has made eight goal contributions to start the Serie A season, scoring four and assisting four in just seven Serie A appearances. Chelsea’s main priority will be to nullify the threat from the 23-year-old who managed to get a goal and an assist in the Rossoneri’s 3-1 away victory over Empoli on Saturday.
Champions League Form
Thomas Tuchel was sacked after Chelsea’s 1-0 away defeat to Dinamo Zagreb at the beginning of September and they are still yet to find a win after the opening two group games. Potter’s first game in charge was the Blues’ 1-1 draw at home to RB Salzburg. Raheem Sterling opened the scoring in the match but Chelsea couldn’t hold on as Noah Okafor found the equaliser with 15 minutes to go. Potter and Chelsea will be desperate for a win here to help in their pursuit of qualification from the group. Defeat makes that extremely difficult heading into the second half of group games.
Alexis Saelemaekers has contributed two goals in the Champions League for Milan so far, scoring in both of the opening two fixtures. Saelemaekers managed to level the scores in Milan’s round one clash away to Salzburg, before finding the second in their 3-1 home victory over Zagreb. The big clash now comes against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge though. The Rossoneri know that a win away against the Blues will put them in pole position to secure qualification into the knockout stages.
Chelsea and Milan have rarely met in a competitive setting, with their most recent meetings coming in friendly matches. The last competitive fixture between the two sides came back in the 1999 European Cup in the group stage as they drew 1-1 at the San Siro. The two teams couldn’t be separated in the reverse fixture in London either, with the match finishing 0-0. A host of legends were on display back in 1999, with the likes of Paulo Maldini, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrey Shevchenko, Gianfranco Zola and Denis Wise all playing the last time Chelsea and Milan locked horns.
Late drama sees AC Milan snatch a 3 – 1 win at Empoli ? pic.twitter.com/QA2BXjgbQl
— SuperSport Football ⚽️ (@SSFootball) October 1, 2022
It’s not good news for Milan ahead of this one with a plethora of first team players being in line to miss out here. Full-back Davide Calabria was forced off in Milan’s most recent fixture against Empoli, whilst Saelemaekers and Simon Kjaer also picked up injuries over the weekend.
Calabria’s injury is expected to be serious and the hamstring issue could potentially see him out until 2023. Saelemaekers was also a first half casualty, going down with clear pain in his knee after around half an hour into the match. Simon Kjaer also picked up a knock in Empoli and did not manage to make it through the full 90 minutes with a suspected hamstring injury, albeit it is not expected to be as serious as Calabria’s.
The three players will join starting goalkeeper Mike Maignan, Junior Messias, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Theo Hernandez, Alessandro Florenzi and Divock Origi on the injury table ahead of the Chelsea clash. However, Origi may be able to recover in time to play at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have injury issues themselves with Edouard Mendy and N’golo Kante both doubts. Mendy has missed the last two games for the Blues due to a knee injury, whilst Kante last featured for Chelsea against Tottenham back in August since he’s been recovering from a thigh injury. Marc Cucurella was also missing from Chelsea’s win over Palace at the weekend due to illness. He was admitted into hospital but he is expected to return this week.
Jorginho also picked up a knock on Saturday and he will be assessed ahead of the match but his inclusion is unlikely. Kante had been spotted returning to training ahead of the Palace game so he could at least make the squad on Wednesday, whilst Mendy and Cucurella also have a decent chance at being included.
Chelsea vs Milan Potential Lineups:
Chelsea (4-4-2): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell; Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovacic, Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Raheem Sterling
Milan (4-2-3-1): Ciprian Tatarusanu; Sergino Dest, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Fodé Ballo-Touré; Sandro Tonali; Ismael Bennacer; Rade Krunic, Charles De Ketelaere, Rafael Leao; Olivier Giroud