Celtic FC's Japanese international midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura says the Scottish champions have a chance of overcoming AC Milan if they can reproduce the form that brought victory over Manchester United FC in last season's UEFA Champions League.
The 29-year-old playmaker is a doubt for Wednesday's Group D visit of the European title-holders because of a knee injury, but he is confident Celtic can bounce back from their 2-0 Matchday 1 defeat at FC Shakhtar Donetsk. "We managed to beat Manchester United here last year and we need a similar performance against AC Milan to get anything from the game," Nakamura told uefa.com.
Nakamura scored a spectacular free-kick to fire Celtic to that 1-0 success against the English giants, a result which helped earn his team a first knockout round tie against Milan. There they were eventually ousted 1-0 on aggregate after pushing the Rossoneri all the way to extra time. "Milan are the champions of Europe, so that in itself shows you the challenge we face," added Nakamura of the rematch.
"We hoped to get at least a point from the first game in Donetsk. That was a disappointing start but it's only the first game and we have five more to play," said the former Reggina Calcio player. Nakamura strained knee ligaments during the 18 September reverse in Ukraine and has subsequently missed games against Hibernian FC and Dundee FC. He will also sit out Saturday's home match against Dundee United FC in a bid to recover for the Milan tie.
"It's borderline whether or not I play against Milan," admitted Nakamura. "I want to play, not just because it's Milan and the Champions League, but also to get back playing and to help my team get their first points in the competition. I haven't kicked a ball since the injury or trained with my team-mates. The Milan game will be a hard game, especially coming back from an injury, so we will have to wait and see how I am next Wednesday."
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