The official website for European football

Ancelotti targets top of the table

Published: Wednesday 24 November 2004, 11.05CET
AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti insists his side will not settle for a draw against FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

Tournament statistics

MilanShakhtar Donetsk

Goals scored20
Attempts on target75
Attempts off target54
Fouls committed209
Yellow cards14
Red cards0

Media Services

Published: Wednesday 24 November 2004, 11.05CET

Ancelotti targets top of the table

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti insists his side will not settle for a draw against FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

By Paolo Menicucci in Milan

One point at home to FC Shakhtar Donetsk would be enough for Group F leaders AC Milan to progress to the UEFA Champions League knockout stage, but coach Carlo Ancelotti insists his Rossoneri side will not be playing for the draw.

'Attacking game'
"One point would only be good enough to qualify, but we want to qualify as group winners so we want to win," Ancelotti said. "It can become very dangerous if we play thinking a draw is enough. We must play our own game and try to attack. Obviously Shakhtar will do the same as they need to win, but we have to play an attacking game."

Crespo chance
The Milan coach will start Hernán Crespo as a lone striker because Andriy Shevchenko and Jon Dahl Tomasson are both ruled out with slight muscle injuries, while Filippo Inzaghi is out of action until February after undergoing ankle surgery earlier this month. Brazilian midfield player Kakà may move into a more advanced position to support the Argentinian striker.

'Big improvement'
"Shevchenko and Tomasson are unavailable, but it's not important how many forwards I field because I want ten players ready to attack and ten ready to defend," Ancelotti said. "We have improved a lot since we faced Shakhtar in our first Champions League game so I expect my team to play much better."

'Bad period'
Crespo scored only his first goal in a competitive game since joining Milan in the summer in the 2-1 win against US Città di Palermo in the Coppa Italia last Saturday, but Ancelotti has every confidence the striker is coming into form. "I don't think we took a chance when we signed Crespo because we knew his qualities perfectly," Ancelotti said. "He has had a bad period, but it looks like it's over now. I just hope he repeats the good things he did last weekend."

'Starting point'
Ancelotti was very satisfied with his side's overall performance against Palermo. "We played as a team," he said. "It was a very good game for us and we consider it a starting point. Our approach to the game was very positive. I want my players to face Shakhtar with the same mentality."

'Good football'
Milan defeated Shakhtar 1-0 away on Matchday 1, and Ancelotti is expecting another difficult match this time, particularly because Shakthar coach Mircea Lucescu is no stranger to Italian football after spells at FC Internazionale Milano and Brescia Calcio. "Lucescu is a very experienced coach," Ancelotti said. "He knows international football perfectly and will do everything to give us trouble. His teams always play good football."

Matuzalem doubt
Shakhtar will be assured of a UEFA Cup place at least if they win and Celtic FC lose in the night's other Group F match against FC Barcelona. But Lucescu will be without defenders Cosmin Barcauan and Anatoliy Tymoschuk, who are both suspended after being sent off in defeat by Celtic three weeks ago, while Matuzalem is doubtful with an ankle injury. "I don't know if the coach will let me play because I haven't been able to train in the past week," Matuzalem said. "However I'm ready to give everything and I hope to play for the whole 90 minutes."

'Very important'
Lucescu said he will wait until the final training session before taking a decision on the Brazilian playmaker. "It's a very important game for us," the Romanian coach said. "With a victory we can still qualify for the Champions League knockout stage, while a draw could be good for qualifying for the UEFA Cup."

Last updated: 24/11/04 12.58CET