Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn recognises AC Milan's motivation as FC Bayern München head to Italy in search of a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
Kahn was a late withdrawal from the first leg at the Fußball Arena München as Bayern were held to a 1-1 draw after Andriy Shevchenko's penalty cancelled out a terrific Michael Ballack opener. He has since made a full recovery from his bruised thigh and his team travel to Milan needing to score at least once to stay in the competition. After losing on penalties to Liverpool FC in last season's final, Kahn is sure Milan will give nothing away. "They will make it incredibly difficult for us," he said. "They have a score to settle from last year's final, and I know from experience how determined you are to make amends when you lose a final."
The German international is well placed to understand the Italian club's ambition, having been part of the Bayern side that lost so dramatically to Manchester United FC in the 1999 final before eventually claiming the trophy two years later - at Milan's home ground, the San Siro. Kahn certainly has happy memories of the stadium, having saved three penalties in the shoot-out as Bayern defeated Valencia CF, but it is now Milan who are on his mind.
Some have suggested the Rossoneri, with a number of their top players now in their 30s, are no longer the footballing force of old, but the 36-year-old Kahn is not about to let such comments go unremarked as he considers opponents currently lying second in Serie A. "We are dealing with the finalists from last year's competition who only lost to Liverpool under miraculous circumstances," he said. "I don't think we're dealing with a team where any of the players are too old. The ages of some of their key players are just statistics that don't mean anything."
Rather than focus on any perceived Milanese weaknesses, Kahn is eager to make a positive assertion on behalf of his own side, who top the Bundesliga and are keen to make amends after succumbing to Chelsea FC in the quarter-finals last term. "The team have developed and we know what we have to do to go further," he said. "We know how disciplined we have to be, and what is required to get through, against a team like Milan. The experience of everything we have learned along the way will help us in this task."
Last season, Bayern overcame Arsenal FC 3-2 on aggregate to reach the last eight, and Kahn is hoping a punishing tie - and overall victory - against Milan can be the launch pad for Bayern to make this year's final in France. "The last 16 is always difficult," said the goalkeeper, who was rested for Germany's recent 4-1 defeat by Italy. "Teams like [FC] Barcelona and Chelsea have drawn each other, it's often tougher than the quarter-finals or semi-finals. If we can beat Milan, we are capable of anything."
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