Milan and Ajax meet tonight at the San Siro playing for the right to meet Inter in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The first leg in Amsterdam finished in a 0-0 stalemate. Milan go into the game with their chances of winning the Scudetto non-existent after defeat at Empoli at the weekend, while Ajax beat Roda 4-2 at the weekend but are out of touch with league leaders PSV.
Milan currently have a horrendous injury list which may work against them. Both Seedorf and Pirlo are out for the season while Rui Costa, Maldini and Serginho are all doubtful. Gattuso is suspended but Shevchenko and Kaladze return, as does Dario Simic after suspension. Rivaldo, Redondo and Costacurta are all on standby to come into the side.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti believes that a win will cement Milan’s reputation in Europe.
“We want to confirm what good we have done in Europe so far,” he says.
“The Champions League is very important to us, I want an aggressive squad who is confident in its possibilities. We can be among the best four in Europe, we are all convinced.”
“The game is of vital importance to or season but I am confident that we can get the result we need. We need to play with patience and look to control the game from the very start.”
Ajax, on the other hand, have been somewhat of a surprise package in this year’s competition. They came through a difficult group including Arsenal and Roma, who they both held to 1-1 draws away from home. If they repeat that result tonight, they would go through.
Coach Ronald Koeman was pleased with his team’s performance in the first game, and would be satisfied with a similar performance tonight.
“I would like my players would repeat the same good performance of the first leg, with one goal in addition,” he said.
He did admit, however, that defeat would not be the end of the season for them.
“We won’t be obsessed, however, we don’t consider it the d-day, also because we are still in race for the Dutch league and a second place would allow usto be once again in the Champion’s League in next season.”
Koeman believes Milan are the better team, but that the Italian side go into the game under much more pressure than his own side.
“I still think Milan are the better team,’ admitted Koeman.
‘They are more experienced than we are. We played well at the Arena against them but it will be a difficult game here.”
“They have more pressure on them to go on in this tournament than we have.”
Ajax could have selection problems up front, with both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jari Litmanen struggling to be fit. Rafel van der Vaart and Maxwell also remain doubtful after coming off injured in the game against Roda at the weekend.
Milan: Dida, Dario Simic, Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Christian Brocchi, Massimo Ambrosini, Rui Costa, Kakha Kaladze (or Serginho), Andriy Shevchenko, Filippo Inzaghi.
Ajax: Bogdan Lobont, Hatem Trabelsi, Christian Chivu, Petri Pasanen, John O’Brien, Abubakari Yakubu, Thomas Galasek, Steven Pienaar, Wesley Sneijder, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rafael van der Vaart.