September 14, (THEWILL) – AC Milan will begin their UEFA Champions League campaign on Wednesday with an away trip to English Premier League side Liverpool without but its veteran striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swede is struggling with an Achilles injury following his return from a knee injury that kept him on the sidelines for four months. He came off the bench in Milan’s 2-0 victory over Lazio for a 30-minute cameo, scoring the second goal seven minutes after being introduced.
Unfortunately for the Milan side, they will be without Ibrahimovic for another spell on the sidelines for the forward as he tends to the issue with his Achilles tendon.
Although his absence is due to an overabundance of caution as the 39-year-old’s injury is not thought to be grave under the circumstances. He will be left out to avoid aggravating his condition, especially for someone his age just returning from the lengthy lay-off.
The implication is that Stefano Pioli, the club manager, has the option of returning Ante Rebic to the centre-forward position as he did against Lazio, away from the Croatian’s more natural wing position.
Rebic combined well with Rafael Leao, one of the club’s strikers, who replaced Rebic on the left wing for the Lazio game. Given how the duo combined with particular efficiency, especially combining for the Portugal international’s goal, Pioli might decide to stick with that combination.
However, Pioli can also consider fielding the ex-Chelsea man Olivier Giroud. The striker began life in Italy with a brace in what was his last appearance for Milan. He was left out of the Lazio game after testing positive for COVID-19 but is expected to be fit enough to feature on Wednesday.
The Frenchman was on the scoresheet the last time he played against Liverpool in July 2020. To his credit, Giroud boasts more experience against Jurgen Klopp’s backline compared to Pioli’s other options and the premiership years in his resume are another plus for him.
It could have been a double plus if Pioli could call upon the premiership experience of Chelsea loanee Tiemoue Bakayoko. But the 27-year-old also picked up an injury against Lazio and was allegedly the target of racist abuse from fans.