Good evening and welcome to live coverage of Newcastle vs Milan from St James’ Park in the final round of Champions League Group F matches. The permutations are quite simple: a win for either side will only give them a chance to qualify for the Round of 16 if Dortmund, who have already qualified, go all out for victory against PSG and win to top the group to stand. Should that match end in a victory for PSG, Newcastle and Milan will effectively be locked in a shoot-out for a place in the Europa League, in which scenario a draw favors Eddie Howe’s side on goal difference. If PSG draw in the Ruhr, a win in Newcastle would give them second place, having taken four points from PSG in their two games, while PSG, albeit spawning, have one.
However, as the defeat at Spurs showed, Newcastle is suffering badly from injuries and fatigue. Sandro Tonali, who was certainly treated to a hero’s homecoming by the club at San Siro, is suspended and Sven Botman, Dan Burn, Nick Pope, Jacob Murphy, Harvey Barnes, Joe Willock and Elliott Anderson, who are all in Milan played are absent. Matt Targett and Javi Manquillo are also out and Martin Dubravka is considered a doubt which would earn Loris Karius the gloves. There was better news on Sunday when Sean Longstaff and Calum Wilson returned, with the former likely to start tonight.
Milan, who lost to Atalanta with a 95th-minute goal on Saturday to leave Inter in Serie A by nine points, have also been affected and boast England’s Fikayo Tomori following injuries to Malick Thiaw, Pierre Kalulu Simon Kjaer and Marco Pellegrino, if their fits only in the middle half. They too have received better news from the treatment room in recent days with Rafael Leao, their most coveted player, and Noah Okafor able to travel.
Newcastle have two wins, a draw and a defeat against Italian visitors in European competition dating back 53 years. Milan are a smart team, but not what they were two years ago. Newcastle had to weather a storm at San Siro and were lucky to come away with a point, but they showed their class in two games against PSG. If they can muster all their strength despite their palpable exhaustion, they have a very good chance of at least a European Cup place.
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