Malaga - AC Milan Preview: Andalusians aiming to maintain perfect start against Allegri's men
The Spaniards have taken maximum points from their opening two fixtures but face their toughest test as the Italian giants come to visit La Rosaleda
By Tom Webber
Gamez, Weligton, Demichelis, Monreal
Joaquin, Isco, Portillo, Eliseu
De Sciglio, Bonera, Zapata, Antonini
Emanuelson, Montolivo, Boateng
Pazzini, El Shaarawy
Malaga face Italian opposition for the first time in their history when they take on AC Milan and will be keen to continue their perfect start to their maiden Champions League campaign.
There are no fresh injury worries for Manuel Pellegrini, but Nacho Monreal faces a late fitness test before he is passed to feature at La Roselada. However, should he fail, Eliseu could move to left-back with Manuel Iturra coming into midfield.
Sergio Sanchez was absent from training with a virus while Diego Buonanotte, Julio Baptista and Jeremy Toulalan all continue their recoveries from long-term lay-offs with light training.
Massimiliano Allegri is unlikely to be able to select Robinho as the Brazilian picked up a muscular inury in his right thigh during training.
Massimo Ambrosini could make his first Champions League appearance of the season for the Rossoneri, with Nigel de Jong making way for the veteran in midfield.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Apart from Porto, Malaga are the only side yet to concede a goal in this season's tournament.
- The Andalusians have never faced Italian opposition. This is only their second ever European campaign.
- Malaga pair Javier Saviola and Martin Demichelis could come up against former River Plate team-mate Mario Yepes.
- AC Milan have scored a total of 395 goals in Europe's top competition.
- At 19 years and 342 days, Stephan El Shaarawy booked a place in the Rossoneri's history books by becoming their youngest Champions League goalscorer when he netted against Zenit St Petersburg on matchday two.
- That goal was key in Milan's 3-2 victory over the Russians - their first win in seven Champions League away matches.
- The Diavolo's last visit to Spain ended in defeat as Barcelona came out on top 3-1 in the quarter-finals of last seson's tournament.
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Top 3 Predictions
Malaga 1-2 AC Milan
- 16.78 %
Malaga 0-2 AC Milan
- 15.33 %
Malaga 2-1 AC Milan
- 10.28 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 6, 2012||AC Milan 1 - Malaga 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 24, 2012||Malaga 1 - AC Milan 0|
|Mar 1, 2014||Malaga 1 - Valladolid 1||LIGA|
|Feb 22, 2014||Almeria 0 - Malaga 0||LIGA|
|Feb 17, 2014||Malaga 0 - Real Sociedad 1||LIGA|
|Feb 8, 2014||Rayo Vallecano 4 - Malaga 1||LIGA|
|Feb 1, 2014||Malaga 3 - Sevilla 2||LIGA|
|21||Sebastián Fernández Miglierina||Striker|
|9||Roque Santa Cruz||Striker|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
The 20-year-old midfielder has been in scintillating form so far this season, lighting up La Liga and the continental competition alike with his intricate dribbling and positive passing. He has proven himself capable of coping with the pressure that comes on the biggest stage, though this may be one of the toughest matches of his career. An impressive performance against the Italian giants could provide the perfect platform for Isco to announce himself as a potential successor to the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
|Stephan El Shaarawy|
Another exciting young talent who has already made a fantastic impact on the tournament, Stephan El Shaarawy became Milan's youngest goalscorer in the Champions League when he struck against Zenit in the last round of fixtures. Following the sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the pressure on the 19-year-old to perform more consistently was cranked up a notch and he has succeeded. With five goals in eight league games he has shown that he knows where the net is and Malaga will need to watch him closely if they want to hold onto an unbeaten record.
The early-season form of these two sides could not be more contrasting. Malaga have begun superbly, occupying third position in La Liga with just one defeat in seven games. AC Milan, meanwhile, sit in a lowly 15th position having picked up just seven points in eight games. However, the Rossoneri have additional Champions League experience which will hold them in good stead away from home. There will be little to separate the pair and the stage could well be set for a draw, with the Andalusians losing their 100 per cent record so far.