Milan test strength in depth
19.2 || Seamus
AC Milan will be without striker Andriy Shevchenko as they strive to maintain their 100 per cent record in the UEFA Champions League second group stage against FC Lokomotiv Moskva at the San Siro stadium on Wednesday night.
'A lot of options'
The Ukrainian international suffered a thigh injury in Sunday's 2-2 league draw against S.S. Lazio and will sit out the Group C fixture. However, Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted his team could cope without the Ukrainian international, telling Tuesday's press conference: "We have a lot of options in attack and there are players ready to step in. No player in the team is irreplaceable."
Milan are the favourites having beaten Real Madrid CF and BV Borussia Dortmund in their first two group games. Ancelotti, though, is taking nothing for granted. He said: "There are no easy games in the Champions League and Lokomotiv have shown they are a good side. We saw that against Real Madrid in Madrid when they got a draw in a game they could have won. They are very good defensively - they defend with all eleven players, and are powerful and quick on the counterattack. It will be a difficult game."
The Rossoneri are in upbeat mood after staging a remarkable second-half comeback against Lazio. Filippo Inzaghi and Rivaldo scored as the home team came from two goals down to rescue a point. Ancelotti said: "I want to see the same Milan I saw in the second half against Lazio. That was the best we have played so far and if we have the same attitude against Lokomotiv we will do well."
Inzaghi to start
Ancelotti has question marks against Massimo Ambrosini, Kakha Kaladze and Andrea Pirlo, all of whom picked up knocks at the weekend. Yet Brazilian winger Serginho could return after a month out injured. Inzaghi, meanwhile, is certain to start up front with either Rivaldo or Jon Dahl Tomasson in support.
Lokomotiv short of action
Lokomotiv have not had a competitive game since that impressive 2-2 draw in Madrid back in December. Russia's Premier-Liga is on its winter break and resumes only in March. Consequently, the Railwaymen have been in Italy preparing for the tie with friendlies against lower-league opposition - Castelnuovo Garfagnana US, Florentia Viola and Prato AC. However, coach Yuri Semin admitted a lack of first-team action could affect his players.
'Friendlies not the same'
Semin said: "There are several difficulties for us regarding this game and one of them is that we haven't played a competitive match for two months. We have played friendlies but it is not the same thing. I am hoping my team will compensate for this with willpower. We have to see this game as a challenge rather than a problem."
Trio offer options
The trainer is without injured Nigerian forward James Obiorah and midfield player Vadim Evseev, who is suspended. But he is not without options: Lokomotiv added Costa Rican forward Winston Parks, goalkeeper Platon Zakharchuk and defender Vladislav Khatazhenkov to their squad this winter. Having lost against Dortmund on Matchday 7, they will also want to add to the point garnered from the trip to Madrid.
Whether they can do so in Milan on Wednesday, remains to be seen. Semin, for one, knows it will not be easy. "I can’t see any weaknesses in this Milan side, they are one of the best sides in Europe," he said.
By Marcus Christenson
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