AC Milan boss drafts in £25m man to nullify Newcastle United ‘threat’

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Newcastle United are the visitors to AC Milan on Tuesday night in the Champions League.

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has picked out the key strengths of Newcastle United ahead of their Champions League visit - and revealed how he thinks the Rossoneri will counter them.

Pioli’s men are looking to bounce back from a 5-1 hammering by City rivals Inter Milan on Saturday. The result was a real shock to the system at the San Siro, so much so they invited club legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic to their Milanello training base this week to boost morale.

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And while his players are smarting from their Inter hammering, Pioli is not taking the test of Newcastle, who have won just two of their opening five in the Premier League, lightly.

Stefano Pioli, Head Coach of AC Milan looks on ahead of the Serie A TIM match between AC Milan and Torino FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 26, 2023 in Milan, Italy.Stefano Pioli, Head Coach of AC Milan looks on ahead of the Serie A TIM match between AC Milan and Torino FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 26, 2023 in Milan, Italy.
Stefano Pioli, Head Coach of AC Milan looks on ahead of the Serie A TIM match between AC Milan and Torino FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 26, 2023 in Milan, Italy. | Getty Images

One player missing from the weekend encounter was Fikayo Tomori. And given what Pioli sees as Newcastle’s main strengths, he’s determined to through the England international right back into action against the Magpies.

“They are the classic English team with a lot of intensity and physicality,” said Pioli.

“They have several players over 1.90m, but also with quality players. Fik is back in the line-up otherwise he wouldn’t be here.”

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Last season Milan fell short in their Champions League quest to claim their seventh European Cup title. Sandro Tonali, now of United, with his teammates were again beaten by old enemy Inter in the last four as Manchester City claimed their first ever title.

Pioli hopes his team can go one better this season. However, he is not overlooking this season’s Champions League ‘group of death’.

“We have to do it. We had a lot of expectations about our derby, a lot of positivity. It was a strong disappointment, but we have the Champions League. Luckily, because it was the only way to change our minds. The group is tough and we know how important it would be to start the group well,” he said.

“It would mean getting to the final. In reality it means concentrating step by step. Tough, balanced group. PSG are the favourite, but Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle are strong and we can take points away from each other.

“But the experience we’ve had can be useful to us and tomorrow’s match can already be useful for the standings.”

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