Milan landmark used to mock Sunderland as Newcastle United make Champions League return

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Newcastle United fans have descended onto the streets of Milan ahead of tonight’s Champions League group opener (kick-off 5:45pm).

The Magpies play their first Champions League fixture in 20 years and thousands of supporters have made the trip to Italy to see Eddie Howe’s men in action.

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The party started long before the game. Twenty-four hours before kick-off, fans gathered near the Navigli Grande into the early hours of the morning.

(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images) | Liverpool FC via Getty Images

And it’ll come as no surprise that Tyne-Wear rivals Sunderland were mocked. A Newcastle Supporters Club banner hung over the Iron Bridge read: “Have you ever seen a Mackem in Milan?”

The chant has been regularly sung by Newcastle fans since sealing European qualification in May. Around 12,000 Geordies previously visited Milan during their 2002-03 campaign which saw them record a 2-2 draw against Inter Milan.

Magpies CEO Darren Eales also aimed a dig at the Black Cats when the club was drawn in Group F against Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund.

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He said: “I think of AC Milan when we had over 10,000 Geordies in the wonderful city of Milan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Mackem in Milan either so it’s going to be exciting for the Geordies.”

Eales added: “Paris Saint-Germain football royalty. Borussia Dortmund as well is a great football club, the yellow wall is amazing. Both fanbases will appreciate each other because the noise at St James’ Park for the first night is going to be something really special.

“We’re really excited. 20 years is a long time without Champions League. We had a great season last season and we’re not just here to make up the numbers, we want to be competing on all fronts. We’ve got six big games ahead of us in the group stage but we’ve got a great coach in Eddie Howe and great players.

“We’re really going to give it our all. We want our fans to dream and we’ve got a group they can get excited about. We feel we’ve got the players and coaching staff and the set-up to compete with all the teams. It’s going to be tough, we understand that, but we’re going to give it our best.”

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