Eight years on from playing in PSV Eindhoven's last-gasp UEFA Champions League semi-final defeat by AC Milan, coach Phillip Cocu hopes for a different outcome when the teams are matched again in the play-offs.
PSV welcome Milan on Tuesday night to the PSV Stadion where in 2005 Cocu struck to make it 2-0 and level the aggregate score only for Massimo Ambrosini's added-time away goal to prove decisive, even though the midfielder scored again for the home side. The Eindhoven side have not reached those heights again and indeed are seeking to end a five-year group stage absence by beating Milan, who will be playing their first competitive game of 2013/14.
"We have a good idea how Milan are doing at the moment even though they have not played any official matches yet," said Cocu, whose side have already beaten SV Zulte Waregem 5-0 on aggregate in the third qualifying round and won all three of their Eredivisie matches this season. "We have a good idea about the way they play and their individual players. We are well prepared."
Other than the long-term absence of striker Luciano Narsingh, the key concerns are over winger Park Ji-Sung and striker Zakaria Bakkali, both of whom were given fitness tests in training on Monday. Thinking back to 2005, Cocu added: "Sometimes you can use your own experience if needed to help the team. Of course the current teams are different. However the differences at the top of football are small. It's about details. Milan are a top team. Small mistakes will be punished immediately by them.''
Returning to the Netherlands for the game is Milan's Dutch international Urby Emanuelson, who expects to start at left-back against a side he faced many times with AFC Ajax before his 2011 switch to Italy. "PSV have a new team, a very good team," he said. "They can play good passing football and they can score easily. Confidence is high at PSV."
Coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side have travelled without injured trio Mattia De Sciglio, Luca Antonini and Robinho, confirmed that striker Mario Balotelli will be fit after an injury that ruled him out of Italy's friendly with Argentina last week. "His knee is doing well and is getting better," Allegri said. "He is an important player and he can make the difference for us. He could be decisive for Milan.
"For Milan these will be special matches," he added. "For us it seems like a quarter-final. PSV are a bit ahead with the start of the season. We have not played competitive matches, only friendlies. So we are behind in physical terms compared with PSV."
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