Liverpool vs Milan | Wednesday 15th September 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
At times I find the group stages of the Champions League pretty stale but that isn’t the case with this encounter at Anfield on Wednesday night.
The second and third most successful teams ever in this competition meet here in a game that neither can afford to lose with Porto and Atletico Madrid the other two opponents in this Group B.
Liverpool are the overwhelming favourites to win this game but 4/9 on the hosts to win outright does not really appeal. Milan may be playing in the Champions League for the first time since 2014 but they will provide stern opposition for Jurgen Klopp’s men. They finished second in Serie A last campaign – above Juventus – have won their opening three domestic league fixtures this season and were only narrowly beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Manchester United in the last 16 of The Europa League last term.
However, Liverpool remain one of the best sides in Europe and will be tougher opposition than Sampdoria, Cagliari and Lazio (their three domestic opponents to date). Liverpool were excellent against Leeds at the weekend and while Milan will offer their attacking talents less space than the Yorkshire side afforded them, the likes of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Diogo Jota would cause any side in the world problems.
Ultimately I think Liverpool will win this match but I don’t expect there to be plenty of goals. Since the start of last season, 21 of Liverpool’s 29 victories in Premier League and Champions League encounters have seen three goals or fewer scored and given that they are facing a Milan side who are relatively tight at the back (one goal conceded in three league games this season for example), I think the 11/8 SkyBet are offering on Liverpool to win and under 3.5 goals is huge.
Elsewhere, I like another cards angle. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak hardly endeared himself to Liverpool fans when he refereed their encounter away to Atletico 18 months ago and he has a reputation as a card-happy whistleblower. Last term he handed out 164 cards in 35 matches across all competitions and I expect him to hand out a few cautions in a competitive match at Anfield.
A few players were under consideration in the cards market but I’ve decided to go for Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli. The Italian centre back has nine yellows in his last 24 matches in Serie A and also earned two bookings in six Europa League matches last term. Up against a pacy and tricky Liverpool strikeforce, with a referee who likes a card at the helm, I am happy to take the 7/2 with Bet365 of Romagnoli finding his way in to the man in black’s notebook.