There will be 20, 783 spectators in the Constant Vanden Stock stadium tonight and all but 1,085 will be hoping for a home victory. Hopes have not been so high for a decade or more, when Jan Koller and Tomasz Radzinski were demolishing defences, including that of Manchester United. The new coach John Van den Brom has been working his magic; the Brussels club has scored 16 goals while winning its last four league games. Anderlecht has also defeated Zenit St Petersburg – the first Champions League home victory since 2003.
The backbone of the side consists of Silvio Proto in goal, Cheikhou Kouyate and Bram Nuytinck in central defence, Lucas Biglia alongside Kljestan and Dieumerci Mbokani upfront. The weakness looks to be at right back where Guillaume Gillet’s lack of experience could be exposed by AC Milan’s man of the moment, Stephan El Shaarawy. The 20 year-old Italian is the leading scorer in Serie A with 10 goals and was the only player to refuse when Silvio Berlusconi dropped in to the dressing room and suggested several Rossoneri needed a haircut.
Anderlecht are playing a team that could be described as a ‘wounded beast’ as there has only been one win in the last five games and the club has made its worst start to the league season since 1941-42. Les Mauves don’t have a great record against Milan though: two defeats and three draws in five encounters.
AC Milan will be without three first choice defenders and fitness doubts surround Pato and Robinho. Either Bojan or Boateng could play in the ‘hole’ behind Pato or Pazzini. A defeat for Anderlecht will put them out of the Champions League and any other result will mean the future will be decided on the last day when Van den Brom’s men visit Malaga and Milan play Zenit. It’s all to play for and quite a few clubs – including Chelsea and Manchester City – will be there to watch the fun.
Likely teams (but you never know with Van den Brom):
Anderlecht: Proto; Gillet, Kouyate, Nuytinck, Safari; Biglia, Kljestan, Praet; Bruno, Mbokani, Jovanovic.
Anderlecht bench: Kaminski, Wasilewski, Deschacht, Canesin, Iakovenko, Kanu, De Sutter.
AC Milan: Abbiati; De Sciglio, Mexès, Yepes, Constant; Montolivo, De Jong, Boateng; Emanuelson, Pato, El Shaarawy.
AC Milan bench: Amelia, Acerbi, Nocerino, Flamini, Robinho, Pazzini, Bojan.