It may only be matchday three, but AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is already thinking about winning UEFA Champions League Group H. However, he is determined not to underestimate an FC BATE Borisov side whose visit to San Siro offers a trip down memory lane for the Belarusian champions, and their boss Viktor Goncharenko.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri
Finishing top of the section is a bonus as it means you play a runner-up from another group in the round of 16, but for now we have to focus on this game; that is the most important thing for us.
BATE are well-organised and defend in an orderly manner. They have a young team which knows how to strike on the counterattack. Mateja Kežman is playing well and is a key player for them. We won't underestimate them.
We played well against Palermo on Saturday, with a good attacking dynamic and defensive movement. That game has revitalised our team after a difficult start to the season. Kevin-Prince Boateng has to prove his worth; he's very important for Milan, but he may become even more crucial. No team has a player quite like him.
Saturday: Milan 3-0 US Città di Palermo (Nocerino 39, Robinho 55, Cassano 63)
Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva (Bonera 34), Antonini; Nocerino, Van Bommel, Aquilani; Robinho (Emanuelson 66); Ibrahimović, Cassano (El Shaarawy 79)
• Facing his former employers, Antonio Nocerino scored his first goal for Milan as the Rossoneri extended their unbeaten run at San Siro in Serie A to 14 matches, since a 1-0 defeat by AS Roma on 18 December 2010. Robinho scored in his first appearance of the season after shaking off a toe injury
Gennaro Gattuso serves the third game of a four-match suspension. Robinho is back in contention but Mathieu Flamini is out with damaged knee ligaments. Thiago Silva did not train on Monday and Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini are unlikely to start. Mark van Bommel was rated fit by Allegri, who hinted that Antonio Cassano will start up front on Wednesday. "He's playing really well," said the coach.
Coach Viktor Goncharenko
We will need to be very aggressive, well-organised in defence and courageous in attack. We will have to play as well as we can. Milan have many top-class players, with Zlatan Ibrahimović one of the best in their squad. When we played against them ten years ago [a game Goncharenko played in and only BATE's fifth European tie ever] it was a great experience – our first major experience, and the basis for building our club's reputation in Europe.
It was a seminal day. We didn't know how to compete against those great players, like Maldini and Shevchenko. However, we have definitely gained more experience in European competition in the intervening years. It's not a 'rematch' and we can't compare that game with tomorrow's because each challenge has its own story.
Friday: FC Dinamo Minsk 0-2 BATE (Loshankov og 16, Bressan 69)
Gutor; Yurevich (Rudik 46), Radkov, Simić, Bordachev; M Volodko (Gordeychuk 58), Likhtarovich; Kontsevoi, Bressan, A Volodko; Kežman (Skavysh 79)
• Despite a host of injuries and Dmitri Baga missing through suspension, BATE claimed only their second win in eight league games, drawing five during that run. Renan Bressan forced the own goal before scoring the second.
Aleksandr Yurevich started against Dinamo Minsk, his first appearance since tearing ankle ligaments on 28 August. Goncharenko confirmed his availability and also said Yegor Filipenko had recovered from a back problem, and that Aleksandr Pavlov (torn adductors) is back in contention. However, Vitali Rodionov (knee ligaments) and Evgeni Kuntsevich (knee) remain out.
Milan were 6-0 aggregate winners when the clubs met in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup first round. Shevchenko and Javi Moreno earned the Rossoneri a 2-0 first-leg win in Belarus and they prevailed 4-0 back in Italy courtesy of Rui Costa, Moreno, Mohamed Sarr and a Filippo Inzaghi penalty.
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