FC BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko says his team owe the fans a good performance after losing 5-0 to UEFA Champions League holders FC Barcelona in their only previous Group H home game. Yet an AC Milan side who have won five in a row provide formidable opponents, with coach Massimilano Allegri determined to take three points from their trip in order to keep the European club champions at arm's length.
Coach Viktor Goncharenko
AC Milan have won three consecutive games since our first match and will no doubt be targeting another. We had a bad game [in Minsk] against Barcelona, but played some better football in Milan and I want to believe we can play even better tomorrow. Matches against opponents like [Barcelona and Milan] can bring the best out of us.
If I had to pick out Milan's three most dangerous players I would probably name their recent hat-trick heroes: [Kevin-Prince] Boateng and [Antonio] Nocerino. But I see [Ignazio] Abate as the most dangerous man with his surging runs on the wing. Of course, you can't forget about Zlatan Ibrahimović.
We have analysed them thoroughly and have to get the most useful things on board. To win, even to score first, we have to keep cool heads at the back and play more aggressively in attack. The support inside the stadium is very important as well. We owe them something after the Barcelona game and if we are united we can hopefully get a result.
Thursday: BATE 2-2 FC Vitebsk (Bressan 52, Baranok og 89; Slesarchuk 4 41)
Scherbakov; A Volodko, Radkov, Likhtarovich, Bordachev (Yurevich 46); Kurlovich (Baga 73), Rudik (Pavlov 46); Kontsevoi, Bressan, Gordeychuk; Skavysh
• Goalkeeper Andrei Scherbakov made his league debut in an experimental lineup as newly-crowned BATE ended their Vysshaya Liga campaign with a nine-game unbeaten run. They had sealed their sixth consecutive Belarusian title, and eighth overall, by beating FC Torpedo Zhodino 4-2 the previous Sunday.
Mateja Kežman has been struggling with a thigh injury but Goncharenko is confident "he will be fit enough to play 60-70 minutes". Yegor Filipenko (back), Vitali Rodionov (knee) and Evgeni Kuntsevich (knee) are all long-term absentees.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri
We had a very important game on Saturday and performed very well up front, but still conceded two goals. I am pleased with our display and hope that it will be a starting point for further successes. We have a very important game tomorrow as we are targeting first place and we have to win to approach our second match against Barcelona on equal terms.
Although we have conceded a lot of goals lately I am not too worried about our defence. Sometimes we have conceded from set pieces. We have some points to improve on there. During our game in Milan, BATE played some good football. They have many quality players and everyone in our team should understand that it will not be an easy game
Tomorrow we will play for Antonio [Cassano] as well and it is a great pity that he won't be playing as he has been in great form recently. Everybody is looking forward to his return.
Saturday: AS Roma 2-3 Milan (Burdisso 28, Bojan 87; Ibrahimović 17 78, Nesta 30)
Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta; Van Bommel, Aquilani, Nocerino (Ambrosini 88); Boateng (Emanuelson 66); Robinho (Cassano 74), Ibrahimović
• Alessandro Nesta's first goal since January 2010 helped Milan to a fifth successive win. Joy was tempered by Allegri's late dismissal, and seven days after he scored a 14-minute hat-trick as the Rossoneri recovered from 3-0 down to beat US Lecce 4-3, Kevin-Prince Boateng was sent off from the bench after being replaced.
Cassano spent Saturday and Sunday nights in hospital after complaining of feeling unwell. Philippe Mexès (broken hand) and Luca Antonini (twisted ankle) missed the Roma win while Clarence Seedorf and Pato are on the mend after knee injuries. Gennaro Gattuso is serving the final match of a four-game ban though he is sidelined anyway.
Milan should travel with confidence having lost just two of their last 13 European away fixtures. Seven of those games ended in draws, including their matchday one visit to Barcelona, which finished 2-2.
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