Newcastle Faces AC Milan in Champions League Clash, Hoping to Turn Season Around
After an underwhelming start to the Premier League season, Newcastle United is set to make their return to the Champions League with a challenging away match against AC Milan at the San Siro. Both teams are evenly matched according to the odds, with Milan being a slight favorite at +155 and Newcastle at +162. As the Magpies aim to regain their form, this game will be crucial in setting them back on track.
Newcastle's summer was filled with positive momentum, following their impressive performance in the 2022-23 season which led them to a fourth-place finish and qualification for the Champions League for the first time in over 20 years. With smart transfers and no signs of their success being a fluke, expectations were high for Newcastle to continue their steady rise in the 2023-24 season.
However, the team has struggled to find their footing in the early stages of the Premier League, with a record of 2-0-3 (W-D-L). While it's important to note that they have faced tough opponents, concerns still arise from their slow start. Despite conceding five goals in back-to-back losses, the expected goal data suggests that Newcastle's defense remains solid.
Another factor to consider in analyzing this match is Newcastle's low-event style of play. With only 13.7 total expected goals in their five matches thus far, excluding their season opener against Aston Villa, their games have averaged just 2.2 total expected goals. This indicates a defensive-minded approach from both teams, which could lead to a tightly contested encounter at the San Siro.
AC Milan, coming off a disappointing 5-1 defeat in the Milan Derby, will also rely on their strong defensive organization. In their other three league matches, they only allowed two goals on 2.2 xG. The clash between these two well-drilled defenses suggests that a draw is a likely outcome for this match, with odds of +260 on FanDuel.
Meanwhile, Manchester United will face pressure to bounce back after a sluggish start to the season. Despite finishing in third place last season and having high expectations for further progress, United's performances have not lived up to the hype. Their only convincing win came against Wolverhampton, where they were second-best on the night according to expected goals.
With losses to Arsenal and Tottenham, questions arise about the quality of this United team. Their defensive struggles, ranking 15th in preventing shots and big scoring chances allowed, present a challenge when facing Brighton, one of the league's best teams. Brighton's offensive prowess, ranking first in shots per 90 minutes and second in non-penalty expected goals created, could exploit United's leaky defense.
This match against Brighton, immediately following the international break and just days before a crucial Champions League fixture against Bayern Munich, is a difficult test for United. Brighton's status as an underdog, with odds of +205 on FanDuel, makes them an enticing bet considering their strong attacking capabilities and United's defensive vulnerabilities.
As the Premier League season continues and the Champions League kicks off, these matches will define whether Newcastle and Manchester United can turn their seasons around or if their struggles will persist. Football fans will be eagerly watching to see the outcome and how these teams respond to the challenges ahead.