AC Milan meet Borussia Dortmund at home tonight in the 5th group stage game of the Champions League as Stefano Pioli looks to take three crucial points away from the group leaders. The Rossoneri have won just one game and scored in just one game while Dortmund have conceded in just their opening game so a tight game is expected.
Here are some key battles to look out for:
Central attacking midfielder vs Central defensive midfielder
Julian Brandt vs Tijjani Reijnders
Dortmund’s lack of a consistent performing striker has brought numerous midfielders and other attackers into the attacking fold with impressive goal returns. Brandt in particular has stepped up with 6 goals and 6 assists in all competitions from his attacking midfield role. The onus now falls onto Reijnders in particular to limit his sight of goal and pressure him to ensure he cannot carry the ball and find spaces in the box. Adli will need to contribute too but Reijnders has the better facilities to manage this match up.
Manager vs Manager
Edin Terzic vs Stefano Pioli
Milan are 3rd in Serie A and Dortmund are 4th in the Bundesliga. Terzic has suffered a heavy 4-0 loss to Bayern Munich and Pioli was destroyed 5-1 by Inter Milan a while back. Both managers are on thin ice given the lack of a challenge for their domestic title but both are equally pulling off some big results in the Champions League in recent weeks. The game is technically a must win for Milan while Dortmund have some flexibility. The pressure will be on for both to perform and with similar styles and a pretty open game last time out but it seems a loss for either could spell the beginning of the end.
Centre back vs Striker
Mats Hummels vs Olivier Giroud
The Golden Oldies. 34 year old Hummels against 37 year old Girou, both of whom are enjoying a decent campaign. Giroud has 8 goals and 3 assists while Hummels has helped keep a clean sheet in 3 out of 4 Champions League games and has scored 2 goals too. The French striker is in top form but has a suspension in the league which means he has rested since the international break and should be sharp for this one, he is enjoying a potentially massive season and should be eager to challenge Hummels in the air and another decisive goal could really change Milan’s fortunes in the competition.