UCL Quarter-Final Preview (1 of 2)

AC Milan v Bayern Munich
Two of the more storied franchises to compete for the Champions League title (formerly called the European Cup). Bayern, European Champions on four previous occasions, have struggled for form in the Bundesliga but have shown signs of turning things around with a 2-0 win over league leaders Schalke 04 this past weekend. However, keeper Oliver Kahn is suspended for the opening leg of the tie after his row at a drugs test following their win over Real Madrid. Midfielder Mark van Bommel is also suspended after rudely gesturing to Real Madrid fans following the first leg of the tie.

Bayern Probable Starting XI (4-4-2):
Rensing
Sagnol Lucio Van Buyten Lahm
Ottl Hargreaves
Salihamidzic Schweinsteiger
Makaay Podolski

AC Milan are sitting in fifth place in Serie A and are coming off a tough 1-1 draw with AS Roma. Milan will once again call on the veteran defensive pairing of Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini. Maldini was rested on the weekend so that he’d be at full stregnth for this clash. Alberto Gilardino will start up front on his own as Brazilian striker Ronaldo is cup-tied.

AC Milan Probable Starting XI:
Dida
Oddo Nesta Maldini Jankulovski
Gattuso Pirlo
Ambrosini Seedorf
Kaka
Gilardino

Analysis:

In the first knockout round of the Champions League a year ago, Milan won easily at home 4-1 and only had to hold out for a draw in the second leg in Germany. It will be important for Bayern to remain compact and keep the game close if they hope to return home with a chance of advancing. Milan have most often used a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-1-1 system with Kaka playing behind Gilardino and Gattuso and Pirlo sitting deep in front of the defence. At home, they may opt for a slightly more attacking approach but look for them to try and control the tempo and maintain posession. Bayern’s best approach will be to try and put pressure on the Milan back four with pace down the flanks. This will require Lahm and Sagnol to make supporting runs for Salihamidzic and Schweinsteiger. Hargreaves and Ottl have a big job to do. They will need to support their defenders and one of the two will need to attempt to mark Kaka out of the match. For AC Milan, they will want to focus on Van Buyten as he appeared to be a bit lacking for pace against Real Madrid.

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