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Milan need a miracle

Published: Thursday 11 April 2002, 14.00CET
It will take a minor miracle for Milan AC to prevent BV Borussia Dortmund from glory tonight.

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Published: Thursday 11 April 2002, 14.00CET

Milan need a miracle

It will take a minor miracle for Milan AC to prevent BV Borussia Dortmund from glory tonight.

In an attempt either to lift spirits or ward off complacency, supporters of Milan AC and BV Borussia Dortmund have been busily trawling through European football history books trying to find occasions when teams have lost four-goal first-leg advantages. But the truth is it will take a minor miracle to prevent the German club from reaching their first European final in five years tonight.

Respect wanted
The Italian club certainly have plenty of reason not to go down without a fight in the UEFA Cup semi-final second leg at the San Siro, not the least of which is to earn some respect from their opponents. Some of the Milan players felt that Dortmund did not win with good grace in last week's 4-0 victory at the Westfalenstadion.

Unhappy with Dortmund
"We want to make Dortmund suffer as we had to suffer last week," said the midfielder Gennaro Gattuso. "The worst thing was to see them laugh at us." Team-mate Cristian Brocchi concurred: "We didn't like the way the Dortmund players celebrated the victory afterwards," he said.

Positive spin
Yet Milan are trying desperately hard to look on the bright side of life. Adriano Galliani, the Milan vice-president, said: "[Marco] Simone has reminded me that Paris Saint-Germain [FC] once managed to pull back a 4-0 defeat by [FC] Steaua Bucuresti and win 5-0 at home. Apart from Simone, that PSG team also included a certain Leonardo [once of Milan]."

Great match needed
Serginho chipped in proudly: "Nothing is impossible when Milan plays. It will certainly be anything but easy for us. But it will all depend on the spirit with which we enter this game. We need to play a great match, and if we manage to score early..."

Minor miracle
Milan, however, could be in a fitter state to pull off that improbable five-goal victory. Massimo Ambrosini is suspended and their captain, Paolo Maldini, and playmaker Rui Costa are both out through injury. Indeed, with miracles in mind, the brittle midfield player, who was injured again last Sunday, admitted that he had been advised by someone to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, "but as I am Portuguese, it may make more sense to go to Fatima".

Shevchenko returns
On the plus side, Milan's star striker Andriy Shevchenko and Thomas Helveg should be back after injury. Massimo Donato is likely to replace Ambrosini while Andrea Pirlo might again be used from the start.

Sammer wary
Matthias Sammer, the German side's coach, has come up with a sobering thought for any Dortmund player given to premature celebration. "It's not going to be a holiday," he warned his players. "There have been lots of sides which thought they were safe and then got kicked out. I have experienced it myself."

Anything can happen
The former German international said that when he was a player for 1. FC Dynamo Dresden 16 years ago they had travelled to KFC Uerdingen 05 for a UEFA Cup second-leg tie with a 2-0 lead which they increased to a 5-1 advantage by half-time, only for their German opponents to score six in the second half. "Milan are a side capable of doing to Dortmund what Uerdingen did to Dresden," he said.

Last updated: 11/04/02 23.36CET