AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti is confident his side can succeed where they failed in the goalless first leg by winning their UEFA Champions League quarter-final return match against Olympique Lyonnais at the San Siro on Tuesday night. "I think they should be worried about us," he warned.
Milan's free-scoring form has halted over the last two games and they suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at Serie A strugglers US Lecce on Saturday, but Ancelotti is upbeat about their chances of reaching a third semi-final in four years. "The defeat was disappointing but this is a completely different story. The many missed chances mean we have been creating opportunities - as long as you do that, the goals will come."
The Milan tactician has every right to be optimistic given his team have mustered 17 goals already in the tournament, including ten at home. Ancelotti is also unworried at not having the security of an away goal for the visit of Gérard Houllier's men. "We've drawn the first legs of Champions League matches three times now, so we're used to being in this position," he said. "We have to win but in football you have to win matches if you want to win trophies. We just have to stick to our game plan and dominate the match. Our supporters will be a big help to us."
With 83,000 fans filling a sold-out San Siro, the atmosphere is expected to be charged, although Houllier, whose side survived intense pressure during the first 20 minutes of the first leg, tried to play down the crowd factor. "I've yet to see a supporter score a goal," he said. The 58-year-old has high hopes for his team, who have been particularly impressive on their travels this term. Lyon, 1-0 weekend winners at ES Troyes Aube Champagne, have not lost an away match for 13 months and have suffered only one defeat in 20 UEFA Champions League games.
"Nil-nil is a dangerous result for Milan," the former Liverpool FC manager continued. "They have to score. We know we always score away from home. It would be a mistake to rate our chances as one in three - I would call it 50-50. We are through to our third consecutive quarter-final and have been knocked out unluckily in previous years. Reaching the semi-finals would be a huge boost, not only to the club but to the whole of French football. We need to reach the last four and start our own history. Milan have a great history - we want to create a history of our own."
One key element in Lyon achieving their European dream could be the return from suspension of playmaker Juninho Pernambucano who, along with goalkeeper Grégory Coupet, Houllier describes as being "decisive". "Juninho's return will certainly help make up for the absence of Tiago [who is banned]," he said. Ancelotti, though, detects a chink in the opposition armour. "Although Juninho is a danger, Tiago being out should balance it up. Coupet is also a great player, but if a goalkeeper is being singled out as key then that means we will have a chance to cause them problems."
With the exception of Tiago, Lyon have no other absentees, Claudio Caçapa having recovered from a virus, while Milan's only doubt is Jaap Stam, who trained alone on Monday. The recovery of Paolo Maldini and Cafu are other fillips for the Italian giants. "These are very positive signs," said Ancelotti. "Everyone is saying we should be worried about them but I think the opposite - I think they should be worried about us."
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