Champions League: Milan, Lazio Back in ActionBy: Martha | November 28th, 2007
Like Roma and Inter yesterday, Milan go into their match in Lisbon today knowing that three points will assure them a spot in the knockout round, no matter how the Celtic-Shakhtar match ends. Benfica, meanwhile, will be desperate for a win, knowing it’s the only result that will definitely keep them alive in the group.
Since this is Milan and this is Europe, no one will be surprised to see gorgeous football and a comprehensive victory. But Benfica are in wonderful form in the Liga, and their poor record in Champions League belies how good some of their performances have been (Apart, that is, from the one in Milan, which they were well and truly beaten, particularly in the first half.) — if Milan go in over-confident, the Portuguese club are certainly capable of surprising them. In fact, if you ask Rui Costa, AKA the most wonderful man in football, if his team would just put the damn ball on goal, they can beat anyone in the group. Milan are without Pippo Inzaghi, who seems to have the plague, and Massimo Ambrosini, who has a nice, normal injury. They do, however, have Clarence Seedorf back, and his presence tends to make everything better.
In Rome, meanwhile, Lazio are just trying to survive. If they beat Olympiakos today and Real take at least a point from Werder Bremen, the Italian side, miraculously, are through. If, however, Lazio lose or draw today, everything will come down to the Matchday 6 trip to the Bernabeu, a venue no team wants to visit with their collective lives on the line. Olympiakos, too, go through with a win and a Werder Bremen loss or draw, so both teams and their supporters will be at a fever pitch (hopefully that doesn’t mean it’ll be a cagey, boring, scoreless draw).
As has become the norm this season, Delio Rossi’s side go into the match with all sorts of injury problems: Among others, Luciano Zauri and Lorenzo De Silvestri are both out, while Valon Behrami and Champions League talisman Tommaso Rocchi are major doubts. Additionally, Emilson Cribari is suspended, having been sent off at the close of the Bremen match last round. They do, however, have Marco Ballotta in the net and, despite the disaster against Fiorentina a few weeks ago, he’s a rock and a half — and, at 43, the single oldest man ever to play a Champions League game. (I read it online, so it must be true.) The Greeks, for their part, will be missing Raul Bravo, Didier Domi, and Marco Ne, though I have no idea how important those people are to them.