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Ancelotti eyes comfort zone

Published: Wednesday 22 October 2003, 5.38CET
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti believes his side have an important opportunity against Club Brugge KV.

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Published: Wednesday 22 October 2003, 5.38CET

Ancelotti eyes comfort zone

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti believes his side have an important opportunity against Club Brugge KV.

It is top against bottom at the San Siro on Wednesday evening when AC Milan meet Club Brugge KV in UEFA Champions League Group H.

Breaking away
The European champions go into the game with a three-point advantage over Brugge which they will aim to stretch over the next two matchdays. Certainly, the order from coach Carlo Ancelotti was to pull rank ahead of the first in a double-header of matches against the Belgian champions.

Vital encounters
"Our two matches against Brugge are very important," Ancelotti said on Tuesday. "If we are successful, it would allow us to qualify early for the second round." However, the Italian was taking nothing for granted against a team that knocked out BV Borussia Dortmund in the third qualifying round.

Respect for Brugge
"Brugge are an organised and solid team, they are very strong physically, and without a doubt they are dangerous," he said. "They have achieved good results this year, having beaten Borussia Dortmund, and we have to respect them."

Confident mood
Ancelotti has extra reason to beware the Belgians, having been part of a Milan team that struggled to overcome Brugge, 1-0 on aggregate, in a European Champion Clubs' Cup second-round tie in 1990/91. However, he can also take confidence from Milan's form at home - where recent wins against Internazionale FC and S.S. Lazio have secured pole position in Serie A alongside Juventus FC - and in this competition.

'A good moment'
The Matchday 1 victory against AFC Ajax, followed by a hard-earned draw at RC Celta de Vigo, confirmed that the holders "are in a good moment, both from a physical and a mental point of view, and want this to continue". Ancelotti, though, misses midfield player Gennaro Gattuso through suspension.

Still in contention
For their part, Brugge will be determined to show they are more than just makeweights in Group H. Trond Sollied's men have taken only a point from matches against Celta and Ajax, but the coach is not ruling his team out, saying: "We are facing the current Champions League holders and it is like David and Goliath but if there is something history has told us, it is that sometimes David can win."

'Milan are the likely favourites'
Although 'David' are on a decent run, having drawn away to their domestic league leaders RSC Anderlecht before Saturday's 4-0 home defeat of KVC Westerlo, Sollied is realistic about the strength of their opponents. He said: "Milan are the likely favourites but if we hold on to a draw maybe we might have a chance to take a point home, but this is going to be very difficult.

Realistic aim
"I fear a goal in the first minute of the game. If this does not happen I think we can resist. The important thing is to cover all the spaces." However, Sollied added: "I have always said that our aim in the Champions League is to finish third in the group in order to qualify for the UEFA Cup."

Last updated: 01/02/12 8.05CET