AC Milan welcome Salzburg to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Wednesday night. The Rossoneri need a draw to finish second in the group and progress to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Their Austrian visitors will finish above Milan in the second spot with a win and they’ve lost fewer matches in this year’s competition than the hosts. The reverse fixture finished 1-1.
AC Milan Form
Milan have been inconsistent this season. They began the campaign on an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions, including a 1-1 draw at Salzburg on matchday one and a 3-1 home victory against Dinamo Zagreb on matchday two. Their nine matches since then have brought four losses, including 3-0 away and 2-0 at home to Chelsea in this competition.
After the last loss, they strung together a three-match winning streak for the first time this season: 2-1 at Verona and 4-1 versus Monza in Serie A and a superb 4-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb. Milan were outstanding in that fixture, outshooting the Croatians 22-11. With one eye on this match, AC Milan were beaten 2-1 at Torino over the weekend having rested a few players.
AC Milan Team News
Coach Stefano Pioli rotated his side against Torino as Olivier Giroud, Ante Rebic and Charles De Ketelaere also featured for 45 minutes for less. All three will start in Milan’s expected 4-2-3-1 shape against Salzburg.
Goalkeeper Mike Maignan, winger Alexis Saelemaekers and fullback Davide Calabria are all absent, as is long-term injury victim Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Simon Kjaer is another who was rested vs Torino and he could return to start in preference to Fikayo Tomori.
AC Milan Motivation
Milan’s full attention and motivation is geared towards this match, as evidenced by the team selection and distracted performance over the weekend.
They only need a draw to progress but are not expected to play for less than a win. If leading in the second half, Pioli could add an extra defender to shore things up at the back.
Salzburg are top of the Austrian league having won 10 of their 14 matches this season. They’ve dropped points in three of their last six Bundesliga fixtures as their focus has drifted to UEFA Champions League ambitions. They began their European campaign by drawing 1-1 at home to Milan and 1-1 at Chelsea in the first two fixtures.
They then took four points from the Dinamo Zagreb double header, winning 1-0 in Austria and drawing 1-1 in Croatia. A couple of domestic wins followed the latter fixture before a 0-0 home draw with title rivals Sturm Graz. Matchday five brought a damaging 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea. Their last match over the weekend saw a rotated XI beat Hartberg 1-0 at home.
Salzburg Team News
Coach Matthias Jaissle made seven changes from the Chelsea game for the weekend fixture in the league. The majority of those rested players will return to the XI for this key clash including Noah Okafor, who scored against Hartberg from the bench.
Midfielders Ousmane Diakite and Nicolas Capaldo remain out injured for this match. Captain Andreas Ulmer missed the Chelsea defeat but returned for 45 minutes this weekend and will start against Milan. Attacking options Dijon Kameri, Fernando, and Sekou Koita are doubtful.
To reach the knockout stages, Salzburg needs to beat Milan in Italy. A draw would not be enough, but it would mean they finish third and drop into the Europa League. A defeat, and Dinamo Zagreb beating Chelsea in London in the other fixture, would see Salzburg finish fourth.
The Austrian side are 100% focused on this fixture, as evidenced by their mass changes over the weekend. They have no choice but to attack to try to win the fixture.
Milan have seen over 1.5 goals in their 5 CL matches this season
Milan have won 1 of their last 8 home CL matches (L4, D3)
Milan have seen Both Teams to Score in 4 of their last 5 home matches (CL)
Salzburg are winless in 6 away CL matches (L3, D3)
Salzburg have seen Both Teams to Score in 13 of their last 14 away CL matches
Salzburg have seen over 1.5 goals in 4 of their 5 CL matches this term
Milan doesn’t have a good home record of late in this competition but are desperate to end an eight-year wait for CL knockout football. Salzburg matches tend to see goals so I am backing both sides to score and for this to end in a draw or perhaps a narrow AC Milan win.
Best Bet: Both teams to score at 1.68
Alternative Bet: Draw at 4.35
Alternative Bet: AC Milan win and over 2.5 goals at 2.20
Multiplier Leg: Milan/Draw double chance + over 2.5 goals at 1.90