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Champions League group stage recap: Milan come on strong at right time

Stefano Pioli's men found their touch in front of goal when they needed it most as they sealed second place in Group E.

Watch all of Milan's Champions League Group Stage goals

A place in the last 16 appeared in doubt when back-to-back reverses against Chelsea quelled the Rossoneri's early optimism.

However, Stefano Pioli's men regrouped and produced two scintillating displays in their final two matches, winning both 4-0 to make it through.

Round of 16: Milan vs Tottenham

Campaign so far

Group E runners-up: W3 D1 L2 F12 A7
Top scorer: Olivier Giroud (4)

Highlights: Milan 4-0 Salzburg

06/09: Salzburg 1-1 Milan (Okafor 28; Saelemaekers 40)
: Milan 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb (Giroud 45 pen, Saelemaekers 47, Pobega 77; Oršić 56)
05/10: Chelsea 3-0 Milan (Fofana 24, Aubameyang 56, James 62)
11/10: Milan 0-2 Chelsea (Jorginho 21 pen, Aubameyang 34)
: Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 Milan (Gabbia 39, Rafael Leão 49, Giroud 59 pen, Ljubičić 69 og)
02/11: Milan 4-0 Salzburg (Giroud 14 57, Krunić 46, Junior Messias 90+1)

Campaign in ten words: Milan are back where they belong in the Champions League.

UEFA.com Milan reporter

The aim was to secure a spot in the last 16: mission accomplished. Milan were no match for Group E winners Chelsea, but made the most of their home games to secure the points they needed to progress. The San Siro crowd made a difference, and Pioli's fluid style translated well into Europe football. Despite some serious injury blows, Milan kept on playing their game, and did the job they were sent out to do.

How do Milan play?

A flexible side with an attacking mentality, Milan can build from deep and hit on the break. Their basic system is a 4-2-3-1, with very attacking full-backs and two box-to-box midfielders – Sandro Tonali and Ismaël Bennacer – operating behind a lone striker. Rafael Leão and Theo Hernández combine brilliantly on the left, while defensively the Rossoneri have quick centre-backs and press high to help get the ball forward.

Fantasy star performers

Olivier Giroud – 36 points
Sandro Tonali – 29 points
Pierre Kalulu – 28 points

Squad changes

In: Andrea Bartoccioni*, Federico Mangiameli*, Fotios Pseftis*, Malick Thiaw
Out: Sergiño Dest, Andreas Jungdal

*List B

Clubs had until 24:00 CET on Thursday 2 February to register a maximum of three new eligible players prior to the knockout stage. Since 2018/19, it no longer matters whether those players have already played in the competition for another club, even for another club still in the competition.

Key stats

  • On Matchday 5, Olivier Giroud became the 62nd player to reach 20 Champions League goals. At the age of 36 years and 25 days he was the oldest player to reach that total.
  • Milan won two successive Champions League matches for the first time since the 2011/12 group stage.
  • The Rossoneri's 4-0 victory at Dinamo Zagreb equalled their biggest away win in the Champions League.