Anderlecht - Milan Preview: Struggling Rossoneri hope to put Group stage behind them
Massimiliano Allegri’s side could seal their progression to the knockout stage with a victory in Belgium, but the hosts are eyeing a last 16 berth of their own
By Rupert Fryer
Gillet, Kouyate, Nuytinck, Safari
Bruno, Praet, Jovanovic
Abate, Bonera, Mexes, Constant
De Jong, Boateng, Montolivo
Emanuelson, Pato, El Shaarawy
Massimiliano Allegri’s inconsistent Milan arrive in Brussels knowing that victory would ensure they made it to the knockout stage of this year’s Uefa Champions League, but won’t be taking their hosts lightly after Anderlecht showed their mettle by seeing off big-spending Zenit on matchday four.
The Rossoneri, who have struggled following the loss of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, arrive at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium with just five points from the first four games, and with only one victory in their last five.
In contrast, Anderlecht picked up their first win of this year’s competition with a 1-0 result over Zenit last time out and come into the game with real momentum, having won their previous five games.
Just one point behind their opponents, Paars-wit believe they stand a real chance of escaping the first round proper for the first time since the 2000-01 edition.
Stephan El Shaarawy became Milan’s youngest ever Champions League goalscorer when he found the net against Zenit on matchday two, and the Italians will need his contribution if they are to avoid failing to make it past the first stage of the competition for the first time in 12 years.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- AC Milan have kept a clean sheet on their last five visits to Belgium - their only defeat on Belgian soil arriving in the 1975-76 Uefa Cup via a 2-0 loss to Club Brugge.
- Urby Emanuelson twice faced Anderlecht while playing for Ajax in the 2009-10 Europa League, scoring his side’s only goal in a 3-1 defeat at the Amsterdam ArenA
- With 10 strikes in Milan's 13 Serie A fixtures so far, Stephan El Shaarawy (pictured, right) has scored exactly half of his team's league goals this season.
- Daniele Bonera is the sole surviving member of the Milan XI who started the game the last time these two sides met at the Constant Vanden Stock in 2006; he was sent off as his side triumphed 1-0 thanks to a single goal from Kaka.
- Anderlecht come into the game on the back of a five-match winning streak - a run that includes a 1-0 victory over Zenit on matchday four and a 6-1 hammering of Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League.
- Anderlecht have won seven of their 15 home fixtures against Serie A clubs, their last victory arriving 12 years ago when Tomasz Radzinski's goal was enough to see off Lazio 1-0.
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Top 3 Predictions
Anderlecht 0-2 AC Milan
- 27.3 %
Anderlecht 1-2 AC Milan
- 16.04 %
Anderlecht 1-3 AC Milan
- 11.7 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||21 Nov 2012||Anderlecht 1 - AC Milan 3|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||18 Sep 2012||AC Milan 0 - Anderlecht 0|
|10 Dec 2013||Olympiakos 3 - Anderlecht 1||UCL|
|7 Dec 2013||Anderlecht 2 - Beveren 0||BEL1|
|1 Dec 2013||Anderlecht 2 - Cercle Brugge 1||BEL1|
|27 Nov 2013||Anderlecht 2 - Benfica 3||UCL|
|23 Nov 2013||Charleroi 2 - Anderlecht 1||BEL1|
|21||Tom de Sutter||Striker|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
|34||Nigel De Jong||Midfielder|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
The 26-year-old DR Congo international has been a revelation since making the move from Monaco last year. The former Standard Liege striker has scored in his previous three outing for the Belgians, and netted the only goal of the game to secure his side’s first victory of the Group stage against Zenit last time out.
|Stephan El Shaarawy|
The Italy international has been the one shining light in what has been a poor first half of the season for the Rossoneri, and was on hand once again to save his faltering team-mates at the weekend when he bagged a double to earn his side a point against Napoli.
Anderlecht frustrated an impotent Milan in the first game at San Siro, but came away feeling slightly unfortunate not to have bagged all three points after Lucas Biglia should have put them ahead shortly after the break. With a daunting trip to group leaders Malaga next up, the hosts will have to be more expansive in their approach which should make for an entertaining contest.