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By Paolo Menicucci in Milan
Having eliminated Juventus FC in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round, RC Deportivo La Coruña will try to take another famous Italian scalp when they face the European champions AC Milan in the first leg of the quarter-finals at the Giuseppe Meazza tonight.
Last year the Rossoneri won the most prestigious European club trophy for the sixth time and are currently dominating their domestic league. Deportivo have never reached the semi-finals of this competition and lie fourth in the Primera División, but will still pose a significant threat.
"We know Deportivo well," said Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti. "Even if they sold [Roy] Makaay, they are at least as strong as they were last year. They have been playing for many years with the same style and tactics, so they are an extremely organised side.
Clean sheet vital
"We have to take what we can from this match, but we also know that this is just the first half of the tie.
We have to be patient and avoid conceding away goals. Last season we reached the final after drawing 0-0 at home [against FC Internazionale] in the first leg of the semi-finals."
The 3-1 win against Parma AC on Saturday was Milan's 21st in the league this season, a Serie A record. "We are playing well and we are confident we can reach the Champions League final again," Ancelotti added. He is set to replace Alessandro Nesta – out with a calf injury – with Alessandro Costacurta, while goalkeeper Dida has recovered from a minor problem he sustained against Parma.
Two for Tomasson
Meanwhile, Danish forward Jon Dahl Tomasson, who scored two goals against Parma, is vying for a place in the starting lineup. "[Filippo] Inzaghi will play from the start," revealed Ancelotti. "I'll decide between Tomasson and [Andriy] Shevchenko on the day of the game." Kaká will play behind the two forwards with Andrea Pirlo deployed in front of the defence.
Faint title hopes
Deportivo coach Javier Irureta rested Nourredine Naybet, Mauro Silva, Walter Pandiani, Enrique Romero and Juan Carlos Valerón for Saturday's 1-0 league win against bottom side Real Murcia CF, a result that ended a run of three straight defeats and edged the Galician side within eight points of leaders Real Madrid CF.
Irureta is without Víctor Sánchez through suspension, but refused to reveal anything about his team selection. "I don't want to give any kind of advantage to Milan! Men have always doubts, coaches even more," he joked, although Aldo Duscher could come into midfield, while Pandiani should be preferred to Diego Tristán in attack.
It will be the fifth meeting between the clubs in the Champions League. Milan won both matches at the Riazor while Deportivo are unbeaten in the two games in Italy. "
We have positive experiences from our previous matches in Milan," Irureta said. "We know it will be difficult, but we also know that everything is possible."
The coach is confident that his side are gaining in maturity. "Milan are even stronger that last season but we are also improved," Irureta said. "However, we have more experience and we learnt a lesson especially when we lost 4-0 at home against them last season. I expect Milan to attack but we will also try to score because we are not used to defending and because I believe that we could create problems if we can score an away goal. Our confidence is much higher after defeating Juventus."
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