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No favours from Redondo and co

Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 21.30CET
AC Milan have promised not to take it easy on a big night for one Real Madrid CF old boy.

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Published: Tuesday 11 March 2003, 21.30CET

No favours from Redondo and co

AC Milan have promised not to take it easy on a big night for one Real Madrid CF old boy.

By Rafa García

Fernando Redondo, who won the UEFA Champions League twice with Real Madrid CF in 1998 and 2000, returns to the Santiago Bernabéu this Wednesday with an AC Milan side aiming to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group C. "I'm very excited to come back to Madrid," Redondo said. "I'm very happy about seeing my former supporters again and this is a very special moment for me."

Business as usual
Redondo's return aside, Milan are promising it will be business as usual at the Bernabéu. The Italian side have chalked up four straight victories in the section to guarantee their place in the quarter-finals next month, and according to coach Carlo Ancelotti, there will be no room for complacency for the Rossoneri. "We are here to be competitive," Ancelotti said. "Although we have qualified already, it is very important for us to win."

Inzaghi not included
With a 12-point cushion behind them, however, Milan can afford to rest Serie A's top scorer, Filippo Inzaghi, and leave out the injured Kakha Kaladze, Massimo Ambrosini and Serginho. But they will not relax. Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque echoed his counterpart's opinion when he said: "I think Milan will come to win, to play well and to dignify the Champions League. It is important for the competition that they try to beat us." Home favourite Raúl González added: "Milan have been the best team in the group, they are a big club and will want a victory."

Big incentive
Whether they want a victory as much as Madrid is another matter. Del Bosque's side are second in Group C with five points, with German champions BV Borussia Dortmund a point behind in third. Should Dortmund fail to beat FC Lokomotiv Moskva at home, then Madrid - beaten 1-0 in Milan in December - can secure their place in the last eight with a win in the return against the Rossoneri.

Ronaldo doubt
Madrid will welcome back Iván Helguera, who sat out the 4-1 Primera División defeat of Real Racing Club Santander with an ankle strain, Helguera will partner Francisco Pavón in the centre of defence, because of the absence of Fernando Hierro, who has knee problems. Fernando Morientes is also absent with a muscle strain, and it seems the Brazilian Ronaldo will join him on the sidelines, also with a strain. In Ronaldo's absence, Guti will play alongside Raúl in attack.

'Great show' promised
Ronaldo or no Ronaldo, Milan midfield player Clarence Seedorf, another Madrid old boy and Champions League winner with the Merengues in 1998, expects a difficult night on his old stomping ground. "Madrid are the most powerful team we can face at the moment, with a lot of quality. We'll try to play a good match; it will be a great show."

Last updated: 12/03/03 21.45CET