Champions League Group Stage • AC Milan-Borussia Dortmund: No Uncertain Terms

This group was deemed the "Group of Death" from day one, and it has lived up to its name. Milan have done themselves no favors, however, by putting themselves in a must-win situation to qualify for the knockout round. Dortmund come into this match at the top of Group F for now, But true to its reputation, no one is safe yet in this group. This matchday could see anything happen. However, Milan is the only team in the group to have never topped the table, and thus need all three points to keep their Champions League dream alive. Their job is spelled out for them in no uncertain terms.

You have one job, Milan.

Borussia Dortmund head into this match in fourth place in the Bundesliga, with their most recent match a comeback 4-2 win over midtable Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday. For that match, manager Edin Terzić lined up: Kobel; Ryerson, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Bensebaini; Emre Can, Sabitzer, Reus, Brandt, Bynoe-Gittens; and Füllkrug. 

Of his Champions League squad, Terzić will be missing Felix Nmecha and Julien Duranville to longterm injury. It was also confirmed on Monday that Niklas Süle will be out due to illness. Also in doubt due to illness is Nico Schlotterbeck, who will be a last minute determination. Marcel Sabitzer is also in doubt due to a muscle injury after being subbed off at the half in Saturday's match. However, Terzić looks to potentially have Sébastien Haller and Karim Adeyemi available for Tuesday's match.

Adli battled as a sub in Germany, will he get the start at San Siro?

Pioli has much bigger injury concerns, with potentially eight players missing from his Champions League squad. Musah is suspended for this match due to card accumulation. The injury list includes Leão, Kalulu, Okafor, Sportiello, and Caldara, with Kjaer and Bennacer in doubt. Bennacer has been training with the team for two weeks now, however it is unknown when he will actually be available to play. Kjaer still did not train with the team on Monday. Maignan, however, did train with the team despite reports that he played with a fever and having not eaten due to illness on Saturday.

The biggest miss, obviously, will be Rafa Leão, who has won UEFA Man of the Match awards in three of Milan's Champions League matches thus far, despite Milan only scoring and winning one of those matches. Pioli will have a rested Giroud, though, who is currently serving a two match suspension in Serie A. Ironically, Camarda, the talented young 15 year-old called up because of his absence on Saturday, is suspended for this round in Europe because he received a red card after the final whistle of the Primavera's last match in the UEFA Youth League. Dortmund's former winger, Pulisic, will be available to face them, having just returned from injury.

Maignan kept a clean sheet in Germany, and he did it while sick on Saturday, too.

However,  missing players due to suspensions or injuries deplete a team of both depth and psychological strength, whether they are starters or bench players. And Pioli reportedly addressed the disconcerting muscle injury crisis over the break, but then did a very poor job managing his players' playing time on Saturday, particularly considering that they are playing again 72 hours later. With at least Thiaw and Maignan also having had fever and other symptoms in the past week as well, he is risking a lot for such a big match.

As Pioli pointed out, Milan do have one definite advantage in this match: the fans at the San Siro. Much is made of BVB's "Yellow Wall," an intimidating stand of 27,000 very loud fans. Yet their fans have actually copied Milan Curva Sud's coreografia, because the Curva Sud are in a league of their own. And our Curva Sud are also very passionate, singing, drumming, and chanting the entire match, and are accompanied by a sold out San Siro of over 70,000 passionate fans. In surround sound. I heard Dortmund's Yellow Wall, and they were definitely loud. But BVB players will have another experience altogether when they step out onto the San Siro pitch for a Champions League match. Just ask PSG.

Welcome to Pulisic's new home, BVB.

Champions League nights at San Siro are often filled with celebrities, and this one will undoubtedly be no exception. One special guest will be Milan super fan and Italian tennis star Jannik Sinner. He is reportedly flying straight to Milano after helping lead Italy to only their second Davis Cup win ever on Sunday. Also reportedly in attendance will be Gerry Cardinale, although if Milan loses, we will not see or hear from him. However if Milan wins, we will see his face plastered everywhere, and he will absolutely say some really dumb stuff to the media. Like how he wants to be Berlusconi 2.0 just a few months after the actual man passed away. Because he's sensitive like that.

Cardinale also made it very clear to Pioli what his objectives were this summer, and while the Club keep maintaining faith in Pioli, a performance as poor as Saturday's with a result as poor as Milan's first three Champions League matches or worse could put his job in serious question due to the big money involved in this competition. There is even more pressure due to management's big gamble on summer spending and making so many changes. The team feel this, Pioli clearly feels this, and the fans are feeling it, too. Sure, they managed an ugly and  difficult 1-0 win against Fiorentina on Saturday. But that was Serie A. Performing well in the Champions League is part of Milan's heritage (even if Cardinale is just figuring that part out) and winning is in our DNA. So taking all three points in this match is not merely an expectation. Winning this match is the job, in no uncertain terms.

This post inspired by the music of David Bowie and Queen's "Under Pressure"

Our next Primavera match is 
UEFA Youth League Group Stage
AC Milan Primavera vs. Borussia Dortmund U19
Tuesday, November 28, 2023 • 14:30 CET (8:30am EST)
Match should be available to stream on AC Milan app

Our next match is 
Champions League Group Stage
AC Milan vs. Borussia Dortmund 
Tuesday, November 28, 2023 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)
In the U.S., you can use a VPN to access a Champions League provider elsewhere*
(*one that does not also sponsor Inter's kits)

Champions League Group Stage • AC Milan-Borussia Dortmund: No Uncertain Terms Champions League Group Stage • AC Milan-Borussia Dortmund: No Uncertain Terms Reviewed by Elaine on 5:15 PM Rating: 5
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