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AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri pointed to the physical threat of visitors Celtic FC but is "comforted by the fact there'll be at least 50,000 fans" at the San Siro for Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group H opener. Celtic got out of their group last year and manager Neil Lennon does not believe Milan's injury problems will help the away side.
Massimiliano Allegri, coach
This is the first game of the UEFA Champions League group stage – it is an important match and we face a physical and dangerous team.
It will certainly be a great game, a tough match, but I'm comforted by the fact there'll be at least 50,000 fans there. We have to look for the win while trying to be solid defensively as a team, as these are three important points for the group that we're in. We have to get through the group stage.
UEFA Champions League games are different from Serie A ones. Results are not only down to us but also the quality of the opponents. Barcelona are the strongest team in the group. We have to compete for points with Celtic and Ajax. It will not be easy; in Europe it never is.
Saturday: Torino FC 2-2 Milan(D'Ambrosio 47, Cerci 71; Muntari 87, Balotelli 90+7pen)
Abbiati; Zapata, Mexès, Zaccardo, Emanuelson; Montolivo (Poli 46), De Jong, Muntari; Kaká (Birsa 70); Balotelli, Robinho (Matri 58).
• Two goals down three minutes from time, Milan salvaged a point and avoided a second consecutive away defeat in Serie A thanks to an added-time penalty by Mario Balotelli. The 23-year-old has scored 21 out of 21 attempts from the spot in his career
Allegri complained that he had only "13 players available – and there's a question mark over Andrea Poli", but he was close to identifying his starting lineup. "There are two decisions to be made: [Kévin] Constant or [Urby] Emanuelson and Robinho or [Valter] Birsa," he explained. "[Antonio] Nocerino, [Nigel] de Jong and [Sulley] Muntari will play in midfield, Alessandro Matri and Balotelli up front, with Birsa or Robinho behind them."
Neil Lennon, manager
I feel good, I'm glad to be here. Our elimination last season [by Juventus in the round of 16] has given us the motivation to do even better. There is some pressure but it will help us do well, it will make us more competitive. It's a difficult group but it will be a positive experience, I'm sure.
The experience last season has certainly helped us. But now it is important to focus on the game – we have to think about Milan. It's hard to say what result we will play for tomorrow, we will see what we can do.
[Compared with 2007 when the clubs last met in the group stage] Milan have changed; now there are many young players with great energy and enthusiasm.
Milan have suffered several injuries, their situation is not ideal, but they . However, I will not change the system of play of my team.
will certainly overcome that
Balotelli is a fantastic footballer. I saw Saturday's game – he is really strong, he's fast and he always asks questions of defenders. He is young and has a long career in front of him.
Saturday: Heart of Midlothian FC 1-3 Celtic (Commons 19pen, Stokes 62, Pukki 85)
Forster; Lustig, Ambrose, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Ledley (Mulgrew 87); Matthews (Samaras 43), Commons (Pukki 72), Boerrigter; Stokes.
• New signing Teemu Pukki marked his debut with a goal after coming on as a second-half substitute. However, the star of the show was fellow striker Anthony Stokes, who scored the second before setting up the third for Pukki with a sublime piece of skill to maintain the Hoops' unbeaten start to the season.
Adam Matthews has a twisted ankle but should be fine to face Milan; Joe Ledley is a doubt according to Lennon, who hinted Stokes may start.
• Milan have never lost to Scottish opponents at the San Siro. They have posted six victories and a draw and conceded just two goals in those seven matches. Celtic failed to win on any of their previous ten visits to Italy, where their record reads W0 D3 L7. Their most memorable contest against a Serie A side was the first, a 2-1 triumph against FC Internazionale Milano in the 1966/67 European Champion Clubs' Cup final in Lisbon.
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