Seeking amends for an underwhelming Champions League start, Borussia Dortmund will entertain AC Milan at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night.
Die Borussen suffered a comprehensive 2-0 defeat at perennial Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain in the opening game of the so-called ‘Group of Death’ last time out.
Edin Terzic’s men have recovered from a lacklustre showing at the Parc des Princes with back-to-back Bundesliga victories over Wolfsburg and TSG Hoffenheim, maintaining a near-perfect league start (W4, D2).
Not even Ramy Bensebaini’s expulsion early in the second half was enough to knock 10-man Dortmund off their perch as they defeated Hoffenheim 3-1 on the road on Friday.
Terzic will demand the same resilience on Wednesday as his men bid to get into the win column after only winning once in their last six Champions League fixtures (D3, L2).
Stefano Pioli’s side failed to score against the Magpies in their curtain-raising Group F outing at the San Siro despite attempting 25 shots, including eight on target.
But they have since laced up their scoring boots, averaging two goals per game across three subsequent domestic matches, most recently overcoming bitter rivals Lazio 2-0 on Saturday.
Nothing less than another immaculate performance would suffice in North Rhine-Westphalia, given Dortmund’s insane home record over the past 12 months.
It’s been 14 months since Dortmund last lost at Signal Iduna Park, with Terzic’s team racking up a jaw-dropping 17 wins and five draws across their last 22 home games.
But Die Borussen’s home showings this season have lacked conviction, with a frustrating 2-2 draw against Bundesliga debutants Heidenheim sandwiched by a brace of 1-0 wins over Koln and Wolfsburg.
The 2022/23 Bundesliga runners-up won’t care much about the scoreline as long as they can build on an impressive run of just one defeat across their last 15 Champions League matches on home turf (W9, D5).
Dortmund would be wise not to take anything for granted, considering their long-standing struggles against Italian clubs on the continental front, having won just 32% of such contests (W12, D6, L19).
In contrast to Borussia’s indifferent record against Serie A adversaries, Milan have traditionally flourished against German opponents, racking up a 76% unbeaten ratio in such fixtures (W17, D11, L9).
However, it’s been 15 years since the Rossoneri last faced Bundesliga opposition in European action, with their recent Champions League form threatening to undermine their previous achievements.
Despite reaching last season’s semi-finals, the seven-time Champions League winners have only won seven of their last 26 games at Europe’s top table (D8, L11).
Pioli can draw confidence from his side’s outstanding record outside the San Siro this season, with Milan winning all three away league matches, including two by two-goal margins.
Summer arrival Marcel Sabitzer won’t be in contention for the matchday squad after sustaining a groin injury, joining long-term Dortmund absentee Thomas Meunier on the sidelines.
As for Milan, Ruben Loftus-Cheek picked up a muscle injury against Lazio and will have to stay home alongside Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic, Mattia Caldara and Pierre Kalulu.
Borussia Dortmund potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Gregor Kobel; Julian Ryerson, Mats Hummels, Nico Schlotterbeck, Ramy Bensebaini; Salih Ozcan, Emre Can, Julian Brandt; Donyell Malen, Niclas Fullkrug, Karim Adeyemi.
AC Milan potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Mike Maignan; Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Malick Thiaw, Theo Hernandez; Yunus Musah, Yacine Adli, Tijjani Reijnders; Christian Pulisic, Olivier Giroud, Rafael Leao.
We Say: Borussia Dortmund 1-1 AC Milan
Given the significant attacking potential on both ends, you’d expect a high-scoring contest, yet both sides have fared well defensively in the build-up to this game.
Dortmund have capitulated once in their last two Bundesliga outings, while Milan have conceded one goal in four matches since their infamous 5-1 thumping at the hands of Inter Milan in mid-September.
Both teams have the capacity to inflict damage in the final third, but we can envisage an evenly-contested draw.
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