Andriy Shevchenko knows that Oliver Kahn's return to fitness renders AC Milan's task more difficult in the San Siro as they look to build on the 1-1 draw they achieved in their away game with FC Bayern München two weeks ago. However, he hopes the legendary German international will again prove a lucky omen for him.
"Kahn's return is very important for Bayern," said Shevchenko ahead of the UEFA Champions League first knockout round second leg. "He is a great goalkeeper. However, I scored my first goal in the UEFA Champions League against him and I hope to continue this good tradition."
The weight of history is firmly in the Milan corner as two of Europe's biggest battalions - together they have won the European Champion Clubs' Cup ten times - square up for the second part of their enthralling encounter. The Italian champions have always overcome Bayern in two-legged contests and, what's more, have always then gone on to lift the trophy. That was the case in the UEFA Champions League of 1989/90 and 2002/03, and also in the 1967/68 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
Shevchenko believes the dynamic of the tie, with the visitors needing to score in the San Siro, will benefit last season's runners-up. He added: "Bayern have an excellent defence. Like every strong team, they defend with eleven players and attack with eleven. All their defenders like to take part in the attacking option, and this could turn into an advantage for us as we could have space to counterattack when we win possession."
Shevchenko's penalty equaliser at the Fußball Arena München two weeks ago rubbed out Bayern's early advantage and raised his tally of goals in this year's tournament to seven, one more than Ronaldinho and David Trezeguet. Felix Magath has said he will be giving him "extra attention" in the return, while the Bayern coach will also have to wait to see who his opposite number selects as the Ukrainian's strike partner.
Whoever wins Carlos Ancelotte's vote, Alberto Gilardino or Filippo Inzaghi, will have Shevchenko's full support. He rates the Milan attack as the strongest in his time at the club. "Gilardino, Inzaghi and I can all score goals on a regular basis and we have different qualities, allowing the coach to use different attacking options. I'm not surprised by the return to full form of Inzaghi. I know him really well and I was sure he could return as good as he was before his injury. Moreover, we have a player like Kaká behind us. I'm sure he can still improve but he is already a world-class player."
Shevchenko is relishing the opportunity to lead out his team in the injury absence of Paolo Maldini, and has no fears should the game end in a penalty shoot-out. That's despite the memory of last May's final when he saw his attempt saved by Jerzy Dudek, the crucial stop that handed Liverpool FC the trophy after their incredible comeback from three goals down. As always with such a gifted talent, there is a positive to outweigh any negative.
"Should the match end with a shoot-out, I would like to take the last penalty," he insisted. "I have one good memory [the 2002/03 final at Old Trafford when his successful conversion decided the match in Milan's favour at Juventus's expense] and one bad memory [Istanbul] but I only remember positive things and I will be fully ready to take the deciding penalty again."
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