Milan face Bremen test | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 18, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 18, 2009


Milan face Bremen test

Milan midfielder Ronaldinho arrives with the rest of the team at the airport in Bremen on Tuesday. The Italian side is set to face Werder Bremen in their UEFA Cup match tonight.Photo: AFP

European action kicks off for 2009 on Wednesday as David Beckham's AC Milan and a strong contingent of English and French clubs restart their attempt to deny UEFA Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg a consecutive title.
AC Milan's loss to rivals Inter on Sunday to lose touch in Italy may galvanise Carlo Ancelotti's men in the last 32 of this second-tier club competition while Aston Villa might be stung into action after defeat in the FA Cup.
Turks Galatasaray should be motivated in their trip to Bordeaux knowing the May 20 final is in Istanbul while AC Milan's evergreen defender Paolo Maldini, who turns 41 in June, has a chance for one last European hurrah after a glittering career with the Rossoneri.
AC Milan's fixture at Werder Bremen on Wednesday pits two coaches, Ancelotti and Thomas Schaaf, who started the European Cup semifinal, first leg in Germany as players in the 1988/89 season which ended goalless. The Marco van Basten-inspired Milan went on to lift the trophy.
Villa, part of an English contingent also including Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur still in the UEFA Cup, might be worth an outside bet for the title.
Though Martin O'Neill's Villa lost to Everton in the Cup at the weekend, they are now third in the Premiership, having broken up England's elite top four and had seven players in Fabio Capello's England squad for last week's 2-0 friendly loss in Spain.
Media pundit and former Scotland international Pat Nevin claimed, however, O'Neill would be hungrier to win silverware in the UEFA Cup than league glory.
"Arsenal and Chelsea might go on runs that eventually make that fourth spot impossible," Nevin said. "He (O'Neill) also knows the glory that would surround winning the UEFA Cup. If you are a Villa fan it would be extraordinary.
"Ask them what they want, fourth in the league or a piece of silverware they can look back on? In 20 years' time what will people remember? It is the trophy every time."
Meanwhile Marseille midfielder Karim Ziani has a groin injury which rules him out of their home match against Dutch club FC Twente on Thursday, the club said.
The Algerian international had to be replaced just before half-time in Eric Gerets' side's 1-0 victory at Monaco on Sunday.
Defender Julien Rodriguez is also doubtful with a foot injury, Gerets told the press, and a decision on his inclusion would be taken jointly by the player and medical staff.
The other central defender Vitorino Hilton looks set to miss out on UEFA Cup action after being told to take 48 hours rest after injuring an ankle on Sunday, while veteran striker Sylvain Wiltord has a knee knock.
Gerets has the good news that striker Mamadou Niang will be in the squad for the first time, since fracturing his foot at the beginning of December.

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