Champions League preview – Celtic v Milan | World Soccer

First Knockout round
Reigning Scottish Champions Celtic have an unenviable task of taking on European giants AC Milan in Champions League tonight. Click here for latest odds!

Both coaches have concerns over the fitness of their strikers as Celtic prepare for their debut in the knockout rounds of the Champions League against Milan.

Milan have reached the last 16 in each of the last five seasons, and have only once failed to progress to at least the last four during that time. However, Celtic have won all three of their CL home matches this season and are yet to concede a goal at Celtic Park. The Scottish champions have lost only one of their 12 CL home matches.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Craig Beattie (both hamstring) and Maciej ?urawski (calf) missed training on Monday although Strachan hopes that at least one of them will be passed fit. Darren O’Dea likely to be handed his first start in the competition, alongside Stephen McManus.

“He has proved himself to be capable,” said Strachan of the 20-year-old. “You never know how you will perform against world-class players but he’s got the temperament for it.”

Shunsuke Nakamura’s free-kick against Manchester United earned Celtic a place in the last 16 and Strachan would not be surprised if Tuesday’s game was settled by another set-piece from the Japanese midfielder, or his Brazilian counterpart Kaká.

“It might be decided on that, so we have to try and get the ball in and around the box as much as possible,” he said. “We have to do that ourselves and stop them from doing that.”

Meanwhile, Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is short of striking options, with Ricardo Oliveira the only fully fit forward at his disposal, and he will take a decision on both Clarence Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino on the day of the game.

“It’s very difficult to play Celtic at home as they are a very strong side, especially with the crowd behind them, but we’ll play to win,” said Ancelotti.

If he plays, Paolo Maldini will become the first Italian player to reach 100 Champions League appearances.

“Obviously it is a great honour to play 100 games in the Champions League, although I used to play in the old European Cup, so I feel as though I have already played more than 100 games in the competition,” he said. “It could be one of my last at this level, but I like the challenge of this competition and I don’t want it to be over.”

“Our objective this season is to win the UEFA Champions League,” he added. “We are confident we can improve especially in defence and when we get players back from injury we will be even stronger, so I think we have a good chance of going all the way to the final in Athens.”

Probable teams
Celtic: Artur Boruc; Mark Wilson, Darren O’Dea, Stephen McManus, Lee Naylor; Shunsuke Nakamura, Neil Lennon, Thomas Gravesen/Jiri Jarosik; Aiden McGeady; Kenny Miller, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Milan: Zeljko Kalac; Massimo Oddo, Kakha Kaladze, Paolo Maldini, Marek Jankulovski; Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf/Yoann Gourcuff; Kaka; Alberto Gilardino/Massimo Ambrosini, Ricardo Oliveira.

Reigning Scottish Champions Celtic have an unenviable task of taking on European giants AC Milan in Champions League tonight. Click here for latest odds!

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