AC Milan - Zenit St Petersburg Preview: Qualified Rossoneri set to rotate
The Italians booked their place in the last 16 in their fifth outing of Group C, and could take the opportunity to rest some players against the eliminated Russians
By Daniel Edwards
Zapata, Yepes, Acerbi, De Sciglio
Flamini, Ambrosini, Nocerino
Boateng, Bojan, Emanuelson
Anyukov, Hubocan, Lombaerts, Criscito
Fayzulin, Shirokov, Witsel
Bystrov, Kerzhakov, Hulk
With his team already assured of second place in Group C and a spot in the knockout stages, Massimiliano Allegri has the luxury of being able to rotate his squad for Tuesday's meeting with Zenit St Petersburg.
Stephan El Shaarawy is one player who looks set for a rest as Bojan Krkic prepares himself for a start, while Mathieu Flamini and Massimo Ambrosini could make an appearance in midfield and replace first choice pairing Nigel de Jong and Riccardo Montolivo.
Fighting for pride having been eliminated from Europe's premier club competition, Luciano Spalletti will bring an attacking team back to his native Italy.
Brazil international Hulk is expected to feature in a three-man forward line, alongside Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Aleksandr Bukharov. Striker Vladimir Bystrov is suspended after being shown the red card against Malaga.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Milan need just one goal in the next match to reach the landmark figure of 400 in the Champions League, having scored an impressive 399 in the tournament including its previous incarnation as the European Cup.
- Massimiliano Allegri's side have qualified from Group C. They cannot, however, catch Malaga who hold a three point cushion as well as a better head-to-head record over the Italians.
- The Rossoneri took on Tuesday's rivals in Saint Petersburg in the second round of fixtures, where they squandered a two-goal lead before finally recording a 3-2 victory.
- Milan are yet to win at home in the 2012-13 Champions League, having previously been held to draws against Malaga and Anderlecht.
- Zenit have no mathematical chance of making the next round of the Champions League, but need a win to be sure of entering the Europa League.
- Their last outing in the competition saw them come back from 2-0 down to rescue a draw at home to Malaga, although only a win would have been enough to keep their hopes of qualification alive.
- Domestically, the reigning Russian Premier League champions currently lay third in the table, three points behind joint leaders Anzhi Makhachkala and CSKA Moscow.
- Coach Luciano Spalletti is the third consecutive foreign-born trainer to occupy the Zenit hotseat, and has been in charge since December 2009.
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Top 3 Predictions
AC Milan 2-0 Zenit Saint Petersburg
- 22.51 %
AC Milan 2-1 Zenit Saint Petersburg
- 14.71 %
AC Milan 3-0 Zenit Saint Petersburg
- 14.4 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Dec 4, 2012||AC Milan 0 - Zenit Saint Petersburg 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 3, 2012||Zenit Saint Petersburg 2 - AC Milan 3|
|Mar 2, 2014||AC Milan 0 - Juventus 2||ITA1|
|Feb 23, 2014||Sampdoria 0 - AC Milan 2||ITA1|
|Feb 19, 2014||AC Milan 0 - Atletico Madrid 1||UCL|
|Feb 14, 2014||AC Milan 1 - Bologna 0||ITA1|
|Feb 8, 2014||SSC Napoli 3 - AC Milan 1||ITA1|
|Zenit Saint Petersburg|
|Feb 25, 2014||Zenit Saint Petersburg 2 - Borussia Dortmund 4||UCL|
|Dec 11, 2013||Austria Wien 4 - Zenit Saint Petersburg 1||UCL|
|Dec 6, 2013||Zenit Saint Petersburg 2 - Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast 1||RUS1|
|Dec 1, 2013||Terek 1 - Zenit Saint Petersburg 1||RUS1|
|Nov 26, 2013||Zenit Saint Petersburg 1 - Atletico Madrid 1||UCL|
|2||Mattia De Sciglio||Defender|
|34||Nigel De Jong||Midfielder|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
The former Barcelona youngster has performed in fits and starts since moving to Milan, but he has an excellent opportunity to show his talent as Allegri's squad rotation opens the door for him.
The striker's excellent domestic record in front of goal, which has sent him to the top of the goalscoring charts, has sadly not been replicated in Europe. Kerzhakov, however, will be itching to add to the one goal netted so far in the Champions League and send the Russians out on a high note.
Even with several first team players either injured, suspended or rested, Milan are enjoying a rich vein of form and that confidence should be enough to ensure that Luciano Spalletti's return to Italy will be an unhappy one.