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Strachan task to forge glory in Milan

Published: Tuesday 4 December 2007, 22.00CET
His side may be low on numbers and struggling to keep clean sheets away from home but boss Gordon Strachan insists San Siro holds no fear for Celtic FC.
by Richard Aikman
from Milan
Strachan task to forge glory in Milan
Gordon Strachan has a tough game to prepare for ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

MilanCeltic

Goals scored12
 
7
Attempts on target46
 
28
Attempts off target47
 
31
Corners41
 
27
Offsides24
 
15
Fouls committed127
 
129
Yellow cards15
 
15
Red cards0
 
0

Matches

4 December 2007

D Milan
1-0
Celtic
D Shakhtar
1-2
Benfica

11 December 2007

A Marseille
0-4
Liverpool
A Porto
2-0
Beşiktaş
B Chelsea
0-0
Valencia
B Schalke
3-1
Rosenborg
C Real Madrid
3-1
Lazio
C Olympiacos
3-0
Werder

12 December 2007

E Rangers
0-3
Lyon
E Barcelona
3-1
Stuttgart
F Roma
1-1
Man. United
F Sporting
3-0
Dynamo
G PSV
0-1
Internazionale
G Fenerbahçe
3-1
CSKA Moskva
H Arsenal
2-1
Steaua
H Slavia Praha
0-3
Sevilla
 
Published: Tuesday 4 December 2007, 22.00CET

Strachan task to forge glory in Milan

His side may be low on numbers and struggling to keep clean sheets away from home but boss Gordon Strachan insists San Siro holds no fear for Celtic FC.

His side may be low on numbers and struggling to keep clean sheets away from home, but Gordon Strachan insists San Siro holds no fear for Celtic FC ahead of their UEFA Champions League decider at AC Milan.

Second place
After Jiří Jarošík and Massimo Donati scored in the dying seconds of each half to overturn Brandão's fourth-minute opener and earn Celtic a 2-1 win against FC Shakhtar Donetsk last week, qualification is in the hands of Strachan's team. The Scottish champions are second in Group D, meaning a draw with the Rossoneri would suffice to see them through to the knockout stage for the second successive year.

Injury problems
"I really don't know how to play for a draw," said Strachan. "You've got to play for a win and if you get a draw you accept it. Our attitude's always the same: go and play football; go and enjoy it; try and win." If Celtic are to join the exclusive list of 16 clubs left in Europe's élite tournament, however, they must overcome a series of difficulties, including an injury quota that accounts for John Kennedy (knee), Lee Naylor (calf), Shunsuke Nakamura (knee), Jean-Joël Doumbé (heel) and Mark Wilson (knee).

'No formula'
They also have yet to win in seven visits to Italy, or record a defensive shutout on their travels in any competition for more than 14 months. "There's no scientific formula for football," explained Strachan. "If I knew what the formula [for the defensive record] was, I would change it. It's always hard playing in Europe at the best of times and now we're facing the European champions. It's another challenge but I've got no worries about this group eventually getting it right away from home in big games."

'Scary place'
Celtic came close to getting it right in their biggest match of last season when they held the eventual European champions to two 0-0 draws in the Round of 16 before falling to Kaká's extra-time winner at San Siro. Yet that experience has served them well, not least on Matchday 2 when the Glasgow team defeated Milan 2-1 on home soil, Scott McDonald's 89th-minute strike following goals for either side by Stephen McManus (61) and Kaká (68). "It's made it easy for us to understand what it takes to come here," continued Strachan. "The San Siro's not a scary place, it's the players that make it scary, but now my players feel they enjoy playing against the very best."

'Best team'
Like Celtic were held 1-1 at Heart of Midlothian FC on Saturday, Milan drew 0-0 with Juventus, continuing their season-long run without a home victory in Serie A, where they occupy eighth place. So ahead of their appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan next week, coach Carlo Ancelotti wants a morale-boosting result – which would cap his charges' successful campaign by sealing group supremacy. "I'm going to field the best team available," said Ancelotti, who has Marek Jankulovski (knee), Ronaldo (calf) and Emerson (fibula) out injured. "We're not thinking about Tokyo. We aim to win the group and I'm not planning to change too much."

Last updated: 04/12/07 22.25CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2008/matches/round=15105/match=301253/prematch/preview/index.html#strachan+task+forge+glory+milan

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