AC Milan vs Newcastle predictions: Experience can help Milan
- AC Milan made the semi-finals of last season's Champions League
- Newcastle return to the group stages for the first time since 2002-03
- Recommended bet: AC Milan to win
The Champions League pool stages begin on Tuesday, with Newcastle back in the big time as they take on AC Milan at the San Siro.
The Magpies last played in the Champions League proper during the 2002-03 season, drawing 2-2 in Milan during the second group stage, albeit that result coming against Inter.
Tuesday's opponents Milan lost 5-1 to their city rivals on Saturday to end their perfect start to the campaign and will need to regroup against a Newcastle side who beat Brentford 1-0.
With Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund also in Group F, both teams will feel that collecting early points will be key to their hopes of being in the compettion beyond Christmas.
However, the Rossoneri's extra European nous might make the difference.
Milan find themselves in a mini-injury crisis, with Pierre Kalulu likely to miss out due to a calf concern and Ismael Bennacer still some way from returning due to a knee injury.
Fikayo Tomori could return to boost the defence after being suspended for the defeat to Inter, while Olivier Giroud is likely to continue in attack after showing no ill signs following a knock.
Newcastle's midfield is expected to be patrolled by former Milan man Sandro Tonali, who shook off a knee injury to make the bench against Brentford and looks set to come in for youngster Elliot Anderson.
However, fellow midfielder Joe Willock is out with a calf injury and is joined in the treatment room by Joelinton, who is still struggling with the knee problem he picked up on international duty for Brazil.
This is the 19th time Milan have made the group stages of the Champions League. The first of those was in the tournament's inaugural edition in 1992-93 following its evolution from the European Cup.
They conceded just once on their way to topping their section, eventually losing out in the final to Marseille.
They have also won the competition on three occasions, part of a haul of seven European Cups.
The most recent of those was back in 2006-07 but they made the semi-finals last term, losing out to local rivals Inter over two legs.
Newcastle's best performance in the tournament is an appearance in the second group stage in 2002-03, qualifying thanks to a miraculous recovery which saw them win their final three games in the first group stage.
The Toon Army's last trip into Europe came in 2012-13, when they reached the last eight of the Europa League.
Balancing his side's European and domestic commitments is going to be key for Eddie Howe this season.
After finishing fourth in the Premier League last term, the Magpies have had a mixed start to the new campaign, winning twice and losing three times.
Their squad has been assembled with an eye on this competition and they will be buoyed by Saturday's win over Brentford.
In contrast, Milan are sure to be bruised by their defeat to Inter and Stefano Pioli will see Tuesday's match as a chance to restore some pride.
Pioli himself took a while to learn the ins and outs of the Champions League but found a formula last term to guide the Rossoneri to the semi-finals for the first time since last winning this competition in 2006-07.
They showed real nous during that run, beating the likes of Napoli and Tottenham and their recent experience could prove decisive as Newcastle bed themselves back into the big time.
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