AC Milan travels to London to play against Tottenham Hotspur for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 encounters on Wednesday night. AC Milan holds a slim advantage after securing the first leg 1-0 at home, and the return leg seems destined to be an intense contest. The Italian giants recorded their first-ever win against Tottenham Hotspur in European competition last time out, but the English side will not let this opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals pass without a fight.
Both teams are sort of in similar territory in their respective domestic leagues. Tottenham Hotspur are fourth in the English Premier League and lost 1-0 to Wolves last weekend. They have struggled to put forth a consistent run of results all season, with three wins and two defeats in the last five matches. Meanwhile, AC Milan are fifth in Serie A and has a similar record in their last five games. They suffered a 2-1 defeat to Fiorentina in the last fixture.
Below, we take a look at some of the stats that depict what the first leg looked like and comprehend how the return leg could play out.
Overall performance of both teams
The viz above shows the percentile rank of both teams’ stats compared to each other as well as to other teams in the UEFA Champions League 2022–23. It can be seen that Tottenham Hotspur has better overall stats than AC Milan in more areas. Notably, the English side has superior stats in terms of crosses, pass attempts, key passes, xGA, and recoveries. Alternatively, there are a few indicators in which the Serie A side holds the advantage, such as goals, shots, possession rate, and PPDA.
Tottenham Hotspur maintains 50.02% possession and attempts 485 passes on average with an accuracy of 84.6%. They take 12.14 shots per match with 31.8% accuracy and average 1.56 xG. Whereas, AC Milan keeps the ball for 50.41% of the match on average, attempting 411 passes with an accuracy of 84.3%. Additionally, the Rossoneri attempted 11.71 shots per 90 minutes with 39% accuracy and 1.73 xG.
How were both teams set up in the first leg?
Tottenham Hotspur lined up in a 3-4-3 for their visit to San Siro. Emerson Royal and Ivan Perisic played a major role down the flanks, almost as wide as midfielders. They linked up with the backline and midfield to provide a channel down either flank. Antonio Conte’s side completed 359 out of 432 passes in the game with 83.1% accuracy.
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were positioned in the half-spaces between the centre-backs. Spurs players constantly looked to make a pass between the lines of Milan’s backline but failed to generate much of an attacking threat. They took 12 shots in total, with only three on target, and ended the match with 0.97 xG.
Stefano Pioli set his team in a 3-4-2-1 formation and managed the crucial tie excellently after taking an early lead through Brahim Diaz. AC Milan opted to play with two pivots in the centre with Rade Krunic and Sandro Tonali, and the duo helped the team establish control in the middle of the park. Meanwhile, Oliver Giroud was seen dropping down to receive the ball and build play with the wide forwards, Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao.
AC Milan attempted a total of 380 passes in the match, having 84.74% pass accuracy. The Italian side played with a slightly deeper backline, and wingback Theo Hernandez posed a constant threat down the left flank with his bursting runs and dribbles. In total, Milan took nine shots, with four on target, and accumulated an xG of 1.71.
Attacking zones from the first leg
The two viz above compare both teams on the basis of their wingers’ actions in the first leg of the tie. While both teams use the flanks significantly to move the ball forward, Tottenham Hotspur delivers more forward passes and crosses into the box from the wide positions compared to AC Milan.
The visitors attempted 59 passes to the final third compared to 26 such passes by the hosts. Spurs made four successful crosses out of a total of 14 attempted, whereas AC Milan delivered four out of 12 crosses attempted in the match.
The Rossoneri must be more faithful in putting more crosses and passes into the box from wide areas, as well as surprising the Spurs’ defence with penetrations into the box through the likes of their wide forwards and wingbacks.
Although Heung-min Son has struggled to perform with the same consistency shown in recent seasons, he has scored two important goals for Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League. On his day, he can be lethal against any team with his speed, ball control, and clinical finishing ability. AC Milan will be hoping it’s not one of those days when they face off against Son’s team, with a spot in the quarter-finals at stake.
Alexis Saelemaekers has been one of the key players for Milan in the UCL 2022-23. Thus far, he has three appearances under his belt but has managed to score twice in that time. The Belgian wingback brings a genuine threat from the right flank as he delivers crosses and beats opposition players with his accurate dribbling. Tottenham’s defenders will have the job of containing Saelemaekers on the wing to achieve a favourable result.
Tottenham Hotspur are likely to miss the services of Hugo Lloris, Ryan Sessegnon, Rodrigo Bentancur, and Yves Bissouma through injury. With a few key names set to miss out, the rest of the Spurs players will have to step up to overturn the deficit from the first leg.
Meanwhile, AC Milan are expected to be without the services of the injured Brahim Diaz, their match-winner from the first leg. With important players like Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao available, it should not be much of a worry for the visiting side.
With a spot in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at stake, the second leg of Tottenham Hotspur vs AC Milan will be one of the biggest matches in the midweek. Despite trailing by a goal, Spurs will be the favourites to win the tie on home territory. However, AC Milan currently holds the advantage and will have to deliver another courageous display to secure a prestigious quarter-final berth after many seasons.
Visuals via Wyscout and TFA data viz engine