Looking ahead to tonight’s Champions League semi-final …
Milan will be looking for history to repeat itself when they face PSV Eindhoven again in European competition.
The Italian side overcame their Dutch rivals on two occasions during the group stage of the 1992-93 UEFA Champions League, en route to reaching the final where they lost 1-0 to eventual winners Marseille. In fact, Milan are the only Italian team to have beaten PSV in Eindhoven in UEFA competition.
“We have always been in contention in this competition, it is in our DNA, and we want to be there at the end this year as well,” said Milan coach Ancelotti. “I think the Milan team of today is better than that of two years ago and now our squad has even more experience.”
“We know that this tie will not be decided here but in Eindhoven,” Ancelotti added. “Although PSV are considered the underdogs, that could give them more motivation.
“PSV are aggressive in midfield, have dangerous wingers and are quick to get the ball downfield.”
PSV’s recent experience against Italian clubs in European competition is mixed. Overall, the Dutch champions have taken on Italian opposition five times – with four wins and one defeat at home. Disappointingly, though, their away record is less impressive, with one draw and four defeats from five visits.
Guus Hiddink, who guided PSV to European Champion Clubs’ Cup success in 1988, believes his side’s relatively lowly status compared to their opponents, could work in their favour.
“Our budget may be the smallest of the last 16 teams in this year’s Champions League, but I think we have already achieved great results,” he said.
“Milan are a very professional side who don’t pay attention to their critics even when they slip up,” he said.
“For many of my players it is their first time in a setting like the San Siro, and it will be important for them to control their nerves,” he said.
“We need courage when we take the pitch, must forget about everything around us and concentrate only on football.”
Milan are without experienced defender Alessandro Nesta, who is suspended. There are also doubts about the fitness of fellow stopper Jaap Stam, although the Dutchman is confident of recovering from a muscle strain in time to be fit to face one of his former clubs.
There are five players in the PSV side who are one yellow card away from suspension. Dutch internationals Phillip Cocu, André Ooijer, Mark van Bommel and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, and Swiss midfielder Johann Vogel will all be desperate to avoid missing the second leg in a week’s time.
Alex, Wilfred Bouma and Vennegoor of Hesselink all missed PSV’s championship-clinching win over Vitesse on Saturday because of slight injuries, but should be in contention to face Milan.