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AJ Auxerre may sit bottom of UEFA Champions League Group G but they go into their home game with second-placed AC Milan knowing that if they win and AFC Ajax fail to better Real Madrid CF in Amsterdam, they could end Tuesday night in a qualifying berth.
That is how tight it is in Group G with Auxerre one point behind Ajax who, in turn, are one point behind the Rossoneri, and Auxerre defender Stéphane Grichting said the French club believe in their ability to pick up another key victory at Stade Abbé-Deschamps. Auxerre revived their hopes by defeating Ajax 2-1 on 3 November and Grichting said: "The win against Ajax gave us a lot of confidence. We give it our all in every game and we want to believe in our success. The situation was quite similar against Ajax. We know we will have to get at least a point."
Auxerre, as Grichting notes, are on "a good run", unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions, and the Switzerland defender hopes they can make life awkward for the Serie A leaders. "We are facing great clubs in this group, but it has been difficult for teams to play against us at Stade Abbé-Deschamps," he said.
Auxerre lost narrowly to a late Real Madrid goal in their first home fixture in the section before beating Ajax, and this is another major test as they welcome opponents on a four-game winning streak. "We will have to raise our football to their level," acknowledged the 31-year-old, who is only too aware of the threat of Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimović. "We will have to watch Ibrahimović very closely. It will be one of the keys to the game. He scores in nearly every match so we will have to limit the number of balls he gets."
Milan's visit to Auxerre could give former Olympique de Marseille midfielder Mathieu Flamini the chance to play back in his homeland now that he has forced his way back into Massimiliano Allegri's team. Flamini said: "Auxerre have a very good team. We had a difficult first leg against them in Milan [a 2-0 win on Matchday 1]. We know it is going to be difficult. As far as I am concerned, I am 100% fit. My coach gives me the opportunity to show my skills and I am glad to take that chance. Milan are a big club, we want to win everything so tomorrow we will play for victory." Auxerre have been warned.
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