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Celtic FC travel to AC Milan needing just a point to guarantee their progress to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second season running.
• Gordon Strachan's team moved into second place in Group D, three points ahead of FC Shakhtar Donetsk, thanks to a 2-1 win against the Ukrainian side on Matchday 5. They now need to only avoid defeat against section leaders Milan to render the result of Shakhtar's home game against SL Benfica academic.
• If Celtic were to lose, however, Shakhtar could overtake them by beating Benfica. In such a scenario both teams would have nine points and Shakhtar's superior head-to-head record would see them through.
• Already assured a place in the first knockout round, Milan sit one point above Celtic and will finish top of the group so long as they do not lose to the Scottish champions.
• Milan secured qualification by drawing 1-1 at Benfica last time out. Andrea Pirlo opened the scoring after 15 minutes, but Maxi Pereira drew Benfica level five minutes later.
• Carlo Ancelotti's team began the defence of their European title with a 2-1 home win against Benfica on Matchday 1 and achieved subsequent victories at home (4-1) and away (3-0) to Shakhtar on Matchdays 3 and 4. The only blot on their copybook came at Celtic Park on 3 October where Scott McDonald's 89th-minute winner consigned them to a 2-1 defeat following earlier goals by Stephen McManus (61) and Kaká (68).
• Celtic's win against Milan brought them their first points following a 2-0 loss at Shakhtar on Matchday 1. After beating the Rossoneri, they lost 1-0 at Benfica but then recorded back-to-back home wins over Benfica (1-0) and Shakhtar (2-1).
• Celtic left it late to beat Shakhtar, Massimo Donati's 92nd-minute effort completing their comeback after Jiří Jarošík (45) had cancelled out Brandão's opener (4) for the visitors.
• That was Celtic's third home win in Group D but their away record in the UEFA Champions League does not augur well for their visit to Milan: their 15 previous ties in the competition proper (qualifiers excluded) have produced 14 defeats and one draw.
• Celtic progressed to the first knockout round of the restructured UEFA Champions League for the first time in 2006/07. Then as now they went into their final fixture with three home wins and two away defeats – and duly suffered a third loss on Matchday 6, going down 3-1 at FC København. Unlike now, however, they were already assured progress before the game.
• Milan and Celtic have met three times before in Italy, most recently in the first knockout round last season. Kaká's solitary strike three minutes into extra time on 7 March earned the Rossoneri a 1-0 aggregate victory.
• The teams for that second-leg tie were:
Milan: Dida; Massimo Oddo, Paolo Maldini, Daniele Bonera, Marek Jankulovski; Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Massimo Ambrosini, Clarence Seedorf; Kaká; Filippo Inzaghi.
Celtic: Artur Boruc; Paul Telfer, Stephen McManus, Darren O'Dea, Lee Naylor; Shunsuke Nakamura, Evander Sno, Neil Lennon, Jiří Jarošík; Aiden McGeady; Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
• Celtic visited Milan for the first time in 1968/69 and came away with a goalless draw from the first leg of their European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final tie. However, Piero Prati's lone goal at Celtic sent Milan through and they went on to lift the trophy.
• Milan beat Celtic 3-1 when the sides met for the second time at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the 2004/05 group stage. The Scottish team very nearly earned a draw after Stanislav Varga equalised Andriy Shevchenko's first-half opener with 16 minutes remaining. However, Milan struck twice in the closing moments through Inzaghi (89 minutes) and Pirlo (90).
• The two starting lineups that September 2004 night were:
Milan – Dida; Cafu, Alessandro Nesta, Maldini, Giuseppe Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Kaká, Seedorf; Shevchenko, Jon Dahl Tomasson.
Celtic – David Marshall; Didier Agathe, Varga, Dianbobo Balde, Joos Valgaeren; Stilian Petrov, Lennon, Chris Sutton, Alan Thompson; John Hartson, Henri Camara.
• Milan's overall record at home to Scottish opposition is five wins and one draw from six matches.
• Celtic have never won in Italy, their previous seven visits bringing two draws and five defeats.
• Celtic's most memorable encounters with Italian opponents have come against Milan's neighbours, FC Internazionale Milano. Jock Stein's team beat Inter 2-1 in the 1966/67 European Cup final but in 1971/72 they suffered semi-final heartache, losing 5-4 on penalties at Celtic Park following two 0-0 draws.
• Celtic midfielder Donati is a former Milan player. He joined the Rossoneri for €14.9m from Atalanta BC in 2001 but made only 17 Serie A appearances, eleven as a substitute, in the 2001/02 season. Loan spells with Parma FC, Torino FC, UC Sampdoria and FC Messina Peloro and back at Atalanta followed prior to his move to Scotland.
• Celtic's Vennegoor of Hesselink was in the PSV Eindhoven team beaten by Milan in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Milan's Gattuso, meanwhile, played in five 'Old Firm' derbies for former club Rangers FC against Celtic in 1997/98 – winning three, drawing one and losing one.
• Milan's Ambrosini, Gattuso and Pirlo featured in Italy's 2-1 win against Scotland in a UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group B game in Glasgow on 17 November. Celtic's Scott Brown, Paul Hartley and McManus finished on the losing side as the result took Italy and France into next summer's final tournament and ended the home side's challenge.
• The two concluding matches in Group D are being played on 4 December, one week before the remaining Matchday 6 fixtures, because as UEFA Champions League holders Milan will represent Europe in the FIFA Club World Cup, which runs from 7 to 16 December in Japan.
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