Champions League Group Stage • Newcastle United FC-AC Milan: Doomsday

If Group F is the Group of Death, then Wednesday is Doomsday, at least for one of the clubs in the group. Currently, Milan are in that fourth spot going into the match, based on goal differential. However, anything is still possible - Champions League Round of 16, Europa League, or being knocked out – depending on the results of both games. Neither Milan nor Newcastle are coming into this match with any kind of consistent form, so it may just be a matter of Newcastle parking the bus for 90 minutes to protect their advantage. Since Milan have only scored three goals in the entire competitions this season, it may be a worthwhile bet. And if it works, it would be a very costly result for Milan, losing up to €100 million in revenue compared to last year. Doomsday.

Our match vs. Newcastle at San Siro was the one that got away.

Unlike Milan, Newcastle drew their last Champions League match, a 1-1 away draw in Paris, a match they would have actually won were it not for an unlucky late handball and then penalty for PSG. In the Premier League, are in seventh place, 11 points behind the leaders. They have lost their last two matches, their most recent match a 4-1 thumping by Tottenham on Sunday. 

While it may be difficult for Milan fans to imagine, Eddie Howe has even bigger injury woes than Pioli. He is missing at least five, likely eight players to injury. The five who are definitely out are: starting goalkeeper Nick Pope, Jacob Murphy, Dan Burn, Elliot Anderson, and Harvey Barnes. There are three others who are also very likely to miss due to injury, including Joe Willock, Matt Targett, and Sven Bottman. Obviously, he is also missing former Milan favorite Sandro Tonali, who is serving a ban due to illegal betting activities. 

The return of Leão will help, but our defense is still depleted.

Someday, I hope that gambling addiction is treated like any other medical condition, as it should be. After all, our own Florenzi is also implicated in the same scandal as Tonali was charged in. And the betting industry deserve punishment far more than the players who get caught in addictive behaviors. For now, however, Tonali is serving his ban, and Howe will be missing up to nine players for our match at St. James' Park.

Pioli does have plenty of injuries of his own in his Champions League squad. While it seems that Rafa Leão is fit and will likely return to the starting lineup, there are six or seven other players who are still missing, including five defenders and our backup goalkeeper. Milan's injured players include Sportiello, Caldara, Kjaer, Pellegrino, Kalulu, and Thiaw. Okafor returned to full training on Monday, but his availability for this match has not yet been determined as of this writing. Pioli should be able to pull from the Primavera squad without guilt this time, since they have already won their group and qualified for the knockout round of the UEFA Youth League.

Could this match be Pioli's Doomsday, too?

Many speculate that Pioli's job is on the line in this match after the 3-2 loss to Atalanta on Saturday. That decision may be influenced by Redbird's newest Operating Partner and Senior Advisor to AC Milan Ownership and Senior Management, also known as Zlatan Ibrahimović. While Milan fans dream of Ibrahimović slapping or kicking players and flipping tables again, he is a RedBird employee, and his duties are very expansive. He may not have a lot of time to even visit Milanello, let alone mentor players. However, the timing for Cardinale and Furlani would be perfect, because whatever decision they make about Pioli after Wednesday, they can claim that Ibrahimović told them to do it.

One thing is certain, though, this match has the possibility, nay the probability for a very bad result. Losing or drawing would doom Milan to a season of poverty and potential player sales or even FFP violations. Going down to the Europa League would not be a lot better, I doubt Cardinale knows Milan's history in that competition, either. But to progress in the Champions League requires us not only to go to St. James' Park and score and win, but it is also dependent upon PSG losing. Therefore, for Milan, Wednesday is most likely going to be Doomsday.

This post inspired by the music of Muse's "Apocalypse Please"

Our next Primavera match is 
UEFA Youth League Group Stage
Newcastle United FC U19 vs. AC Milan Primavera
Wednesday, December 13, 2023 • 14:00 CET (8am EST)
Match is available on with a free account
and should also be available to stream on AC Milan app

Our next match is 
Champions League Group Stage
Newcastle United FC vs. AC Milan
Wednesday, December 13, 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 • Newcastle United FC-AC Milan: Doomsday Champions League Group Stage • Newcastle United FC-AC Milan: Doomsday Reviewed by Elaine on 7:30 AM Rating: 5
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