Newcastle makes its return to the Champions League with a trip to the San Siro to take on AC Milan on Tuesday afternoon (12:45 p.m. ET).
It’s been an underwhelming start to the Premier League for the Magpies, but a win over the Rossoneri on the road would go a long way to getting things back on track.
Milan is a slight +155 favorite on the three-way moneyline Tuesday, but Newcastle’s +162 odds tell you the market is having a tough time separating these clubs.
Let’s break it down.
AC Milan vs. Newcastle pick
There was plenty of positive momentum surrounding Newcastle this summer. The Magpies were terrific for all of 2022-23 and their consistency paid off in the fashion of a fourth-place finish and their first trip to the Champions League since 2002-03.
Plenty of punters expected Newcastle to take a modest step forward in 2023-24 as they made some smart transfers over the last six months and there were no warning signs in the numbers that suggested their performance last season was a fluke. This looked like a team in the midst of a steady rise.
But things are rarely linear in sports and Newcastle has sputtered a bit to start the season. In fairness to the Magpies they have played a very difficult schedule, but a 2-0-3 (W-D-L) run to kick off the campaign is still cause for some concern when you have massive expectations.
A five-match sample is still pretty small and the fact that Newcastle has played three of the best five teams in the Premier League already can skew things a bit, but there are a couple of things worth noting in order to handicap this match.
The first is that the Newcastle defense is still elite.
That may sound like high praise for a team that has kept just one clean sheet and conceded five goals in back-to-back losses before the international break, but the expected goal data shows us that the Magpies are carrying their defensive form into the new season so far.
Another thing worth working into your handicap is that the Magpies are playing very low-event matches thus far.
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There have been 13.7 total expected goals (8.4 xGF and 5.3 xGA) in Newcastle’s five matches thus far, but 5.1 of those were created in their season opener against Aston Villa. Newcastle’s four matches since then have averaged 2.2 total expected goals.
Like Newcastle, AC Milan is just as happy to be patient and grind out results. Although the Rossoneri is coming off a deflating 5-1 defeat in the Milan Derby, their other three league matches this year saw them allow just two goals on 2.2 xG.
These are two well-drilled defenses meeting at the San Siro on Tuesday and all signs point to this being a rock fight. Thus, the draw should be in play throughout this contest.
The Bet: Draw +260 (FanDuel)
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