Ability, belief and a bit of luck are three of the ingredients that Gordon Strachan thinks Celtic FC will need if they are to get the better of holders AC Milan.
"Ability, belief and a bit of luck" – three of the ingredients manager Gordon Strachan believes Celtic FC will require if they are to get the better of holders AC Milan.
Youth v experience
Having lost their Group D opener 2-0 at FC Shakhtar Donetsk, the Scottish champions are anxious to put points on the board although Strachan acknowledges the size of the task facing his inexperienced side against the team that eliminated them in the first knockout round last term. "We need ability, belief and a bit of luck, which you always need when you're playing against a top side," said Strachan. "It's a young side we have at the moment, but we're all looking forward to the game and pitting ourselves against some of the best players in the world."
With striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink missing with a hamstring injury sustained during the 3-0 weekend win against Dundee United FC, along with right-back Mark Wilson (knee), the sight of Shunsuke Nakamura training with the team for the first time since he strained his left knee against Shakhtar has boosted the Celtic boss. "He's a big player for our club," said Strachan, who has other options should the Japan playmaker fail to make it. "The players like him in the side, but we can't have a system based on one player and we need to compensate for that. We did OK on Saturday but with respect, this is a bigger challenge."
Boy from Brazil
Kaká was the difference between the teams last March, scoring the extra-time winner at San Siro that took Milan into the quarter-finals 1-0 on aggregate – yet Strachan is refusing to take special precautions for the Brazilian. "Kaká is one of their most exciting players as he showed against us last season," he said. "To shrug off players and finish the way he did was just genius. But you have to think about the whole team and how you stop the ball going into areas where they like to play. Then, when we have the ball, we will have the belief to go and make things happen."
Low on confidence
Milan have arrived in Glasgow without defender Kakha Kaladze, who was injured in Sunday's 1-1 home draw against Calcio Catania, and long-term casualties Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo and Serginho, although goalkeeper Dida is available after overcoming a shoulder complaint. Coach Carlo Ancelotti hopes the UEFA Champions League will restore confidence among a squad with just one victory from their six Serie A matches.
"We are not at our best at the moment," admitted Ancelotti, whose charges nonetheless beat SL Benfica 2-1 on Matchday 1. "But the Champions League is a different stage and it should be a more open game at Celtic Park. We hope to turn this around and we are very focused on winning here. Nakamura is a very good player and obviously if he is on the pitch we will keep a close eye on him, especially from free-kicks. But we need to be careful about the whole team."