RC Celta de Vigo defender Eduardo Berizzo believes his side must play their own game and not be intimidated by the aura of their opponents when they meet defending champions AC Milan in their first-ever UEFA Champions League home game on Wednesday.
Celta made a promising start to their campaign with a 1-1 draw at Belgian side Club Brugge KV, and are desperate to put on a good show for their supporters. Celta followed that draw with a courageous display as they came back from 2-0 down against Real Valladolid in the Primera División to win 3-2, with goals from Jesuli, Aleksandr Mostovoi and Savo Milosevic.
However, the home side have personnel problems. Strikers Catanha, Edu and Silvinho are struggling with injuries, while the midfield players Peter Luccin and José Ignacio Sáenz are suspended. The bright note is that Mostovoi is available having served a ban on Matchday 1.
We are not favourites, but we should not feel inferior either," said Berizzo. "The supporters are going to fill the ground and they will not want to see us show too much respect for Milan," he said. However, Berizzo insisted his team-mates will have to take their opponents seriously. "We are playing one of the most powerful teams in the world and we need to be prepared mentally," he said.
Celta have given their fans some memorable nights in the UEFA Cup in recent years, with victories over SL Benfica, Liverpool FC, Aston Villa FC and Juventus FC. They have reached the quarter-finals of that competition three times in the last five years so their European experiences are not to be underestimated.
Match to remember
Meanwhile, Celta coach Miguel Ángel Lotina wants his players to make the occasion a match to remember. "Every one of them is going to get a video of the game and when they show it to their children in ten or 15 years it won't matter if they say: 'Dad - you were awful.' The worst thing they could say would be 'Dad - were you playing?' My players have to be brave and not be scared of failure."
Carlo Ancelotti, the Milan coach, is wary of Celta's attacking threat, and hinted that he might play a lone striker. "
Celta Vigo are very dangerous in attack with Milosevic, Mostovoi and Gustavo Lopez," he said. "They play like [RC] Deportivo La Coruña. They are very good attacking and dangerous down the wing. Last year we did well against Deportivo with just one forward."
Stretching back to last season, Milan are unbeaten in six matches in the competition, and beat AFC Ajax 1-0 courtesy of a Filippo Inzaghi goal on Matchday 1. They are in similarly good form domestically, beating US Lecce 3-0 at the weekend to move to the top of the table. Andriy Shevchenko scored twice and Jon Dahl Tomasson once.
Ancelotti could include Rivaldo at some stage during the game after the Brazilian, who had initially agreed to have his contract terminated, decided to stay with the club. The midfield player had become disheartened with his lack of first-team opportunities but decided to stay after talking with general manager Adriano Galliano.
Kakha Kaladze and Giuseppe Pancaro are injured, meaning either Alessandro Costacurta or Serginho will fill in on the left. Gennaro Gattuso is suspended after his dismissal against Ajax as Milan look to continue their European dominance.
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