AC Milan set for Celtic showdown

The defending champions look to secure to top spot in their group.

    Massimo Oddo: Whips it in at the San Siro
    [GALLO/GETTY]
    Defending Uefa Champions League winners AC Milan will look to secure top spot in the qualifying group before travelling to Japan for the Club World Cup when they tackle Celtic at the San Siro.

    The match was moved up to accommodate Milan's trip to Asia and the Glasgow side will be looking to return with at least a draw to qualify for the next stage.

    AC Milan star Kaka received the Golden Ball award Sunday and is looking to match his performance against Celtic last season, when his goal in extra time sent Milan to the quarterfinals.

    Also in line for FIFA's world player of the year award, the 25-year-old Brazilian said he wouldn't have trouble finding more motivation.

    "That's a problem that doesn't exist," he said.

    "At the very least, I want to duplicate every victory."

    An all important point

    Milan leads with 10 points, followed by Celtic with nine, Shakhtar Donetsk with six and Benfica with four.

    Shakhtar and Benfica will also play Tuesday, while the remaining groups will finish next week.

    The Scottish club could still advance with a loss depending on the outcome of Shakhtar-Benfica.

    Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc will play despite injuring his knee in action for Poland last month.

    He has postponed surgery until the club knows whether it has qualified.

    "We'll look at Artur straight after the game," Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said.

    "It might be he'll come through the test with flying colors. But if he hasn't got any better he'll go straight into hospital for corrective surgery."

    The Scottish champion, which had its lead at the top of its domestic league trimmed to a point when it drew 1-1 at Hearts on Saturday, has refused to concede it will play for a draw.

    "We anyhow must go on the field with our usual attitude; to play, to enjoy ourselves and to try to win," manager Gordon Strachan said.

    "We don't have a scientific formula for doing well away. If I knew it, I'd apply it."

    Important

    A loss for Milan would mean second place in the group and possibly a more difficult draw for the next round, so coach Carlo Ancelotti is planning on using his top squad.

    "First place in the group is important," Ancelotti said.

    Milan is still winless at home in the Italian league and drew 0-0 at the San Siro with Juventus on Saturday.

    Milan has won both of its Champions League games at home this season, beating Benfica 2-1 and Shakhtar 4-1.

    Milan will be without Ronaldo, who aggravated an injury while warming up for a 1-1 draw with Benfica last week.

    Daniele Bonera will likely start in defense, giving one of the regulars a night off.

    After the Celtic game, Milan will have nine days of rest before the semifinals of the Club World Cup, followed by an expected final with Boca Juniors.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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