Anderlecht return to the Champions League after a six year gap. Ever the optimist, President Roger Vanden Stock says that it’s a good time to play AC Milan. He’s probably right as the Italians are at the beginning of team-building. Zlatan Ibrahomovic and Thiago Silva have left the club as part of Silvio
Berlusconi’s austerity drive, while senior players such as Gennaro Gattuso, Pippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf have seen their time called. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Gabriel Marcotti quotes Milan sources as saying the financial cutbacks are a combination of trying to cope with the new Financial Fair Play regulations, and, more simply, the fact that the economic slump has hit Berlusconi’s other businesses hard. Whatever the reason, AC Milan are no longer one of Europe’s top clubs.
In the Belgian media, the star of the current team is now seen as Kevin-Prince Boateng, a player who achieved little with Spurs and Portsmouth. Others to note are French international defender Philippe Mexès, Nigel de Jong recently arrived from Manchester City, Italian international Stephan El Shaarawy (19) and striker Giampaolo Pazzini. Keeper Christian Abbiati is apparently a self-confessed member of the extreme right while captain Massimo Ambrosini is doubtful.
Milan have lost both their home league games this season while Anderlecht have won one and drawn three of their four away games in the Jupiler league. So neither are exactly setting the football world alight. The Brussels team – with new coach John Van den Brom – have only won three of their first seven matches and the side lacks quality at full back and in midfield. They will probably beef up the latter tonight by playing Guillaume Gillet there rather than in his national team position of right back. Milan Jovanovic is suspended, for kicking a bottle at the opposition bench against Limassol, and Ukraine winger Sacha Iakovenko should come in. Anderlecht are still waiting to see if Cheikou Kouyaté will be fit, if he’s not, then Roland Juhasz could come in from the cold.
Anderlecht have never beaten Milan and it would still be a shock if they won tonight. President Vanden Stock also said a draw would be like a victory. He could be celebrating that tonight.
Anderlecht: Proto; Wasilewski, Kouyaté (Juhasz), Nuytinck, Deschacht; Gillet, Kljestan, Biglia, Iakovenko; Kanu; Mbokani
AC Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Bonera, Mexès, Antonioni; Ambrosini (Emanuelson), Nocerino, De Jong; Boateng, El Shaarawy; Pazzini.