Stefano Pioli explains his tactical changes to attack Newcastle United defenders with Samuel Chukwueze’s pace and admits it is ‘going to be strange’ seeing Sandro Tonali as an opponent.
It kicks off at 17.45 UK time (16.45 GMT).
The Rossoneri are feeling the pressure to get back on track quickly after Saturday’s 5-1 defeat to arch-rivals Inter in Serie A.
“We return to San Siro to play the first Champions League game. It is a different competition, we must not think about what we failed to do last time, but focus on playing to our strengths with our own characteristics,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“This is the first game of a tough group, so we need the right approach against an opponent that makes aggression, intensity and physical strength their greatest weapons.”
After such a heavy defeat in the Derby della Madonnina, tactics can only do so much and it becomes more about coaching the psychological aspect of his team.
“It is always about mentality. You need a plan and a strategy, which we have, but after that mentality, focus, determination and concentration make the difference. I am confident the team is ready for this match.”
Pioli makes three changes from the side that lost to Inter, bringing back Fikayo Tomori from suspension, while Tommaso Pobega is preferred to Tijjani Reijnders and Chukwueze gets his first start rather than Christian Pulisic.
“Chukwueze is rapid, good at one-on-one situations, is taking on a tall and physical full-back, but one with a very different pace to him. Pobega is very good at running into the box and entering those spaces,” explained the coach.
Just weeks after his €80m transfer to St. James’ Park, Tonali will be at San Siro wearing the Newcastle United jersey as an opponent to his beloved Milan.
“It is certainly going to be strange. He was with us it feels until yesterday and we had wonderful experiences together. This is football and life, what matters is that you hold on to those moments.”