Soccer

Liverpool face danger from old foe as Champions League campaign kicks off next week

Klopp discusses contact with van Dijk amid injury concern

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to get his side’s Champions League campaign off to a good start with a win over AC Milan on Wednesday evening. The Reds will rekindle their old rivalry with the San Siro giants under the Anfield lights three days after facing Leeds United in the Premier League on Sunday.

Liverpool have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign having gone undefeated against Norwich City, Burnley and Chelsea, picking up seven points along the way.

They have conceded just one Premier League goal since the beginning of the season and will be hoping to maintain their defensive solidity against Leeds this afternoon and Milan in midweek.

The Italian heavyweights have a long and storied history with Liverpool, with the iconic Champions League final in 2005 remembered fondly by those on Merseyside and less so by the Rossoneri.

Milan exacted their revenge two years later, downing the Reds at the same stage of the competition to put their own hands on the trophy.

It seems as though Milan boss Stefano Pioli will have an ace up his sleeve for the trip to Anfield on Tuesday, with former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud expected to feature after recovering from COVID-19.

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The Frenchman has been isolating at home after contracting the virus last week, but could be passed fit to face Liverpool after testing negative.

He will undergo a mandatory screening before a decision on his return date will be made, according to a statement on Milan’s official website.

Giroud boasts a formidable record against Liverpool, scoring eight times against the Reds in all competitions over the course of his career.

His last goal at Anfield came in Chelsea’s eventful 5-3 defeat at the end of the 2019/20 campaign, and the 34-year-old will be expecting to add to his tally if Pioli decides to start him on Tuesday.

He has made a promising start to life in Milan, scoring twice in as many Serie A matches for the club since his summer move from Chelsea.

Liverpool will be looking to keep Giroud quiet in midweek as they aim for a perfect start to their Champions League group stage run.

The Reds have been drawn in arguably the hardest group of them all, with Milan, Atletico Madrid and Porto joining them in the fight to reach the knockout stages.

Klopp spoke of his excitement after learning of Liverpool’s opponents last month, declaring that his side will be more than up for the challenge of progressing.

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“I laughed, to be honest, pretty loud because it is a tough group obviously,” the 54-year-old told reporters.

“It’s the Champions League, so that’s how it is, and you have to play the best teams in Europe, and obviously some of them are in our group!

“We played, I don’t know how often, already against Porto, so they will be waiting for us. We have obviously a little bit of [an] open bill with Atletico, and AC Milan, a historical one obviously.

“So, I think our supporters should be looking forward to it. We do, for sure.”

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