Ancelotti confident before Barca meeting

April 17, 2006

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti believes his team's greater experience in Europe will give them the edge in the Champions League clash against Barcelona.

The Rossoneri beat Juventus to the title in 2003 and were runners-up to Liverpool last season and many of those Milan players will feature against Barca.

'This is our third Champions League semi-final in four years,' said Ancelotti.

'We are used to these type of games while Barcelona are not.'

In the knockout stages this season, Barcelona eliminated Chelsea and then Benfica while Milan overcame Bayern Munich and Olympique Lyon, respectively, to reach the last four.

'At the moment, Barcelona and Milan are the two teams in Europe that express the best football,' said Ancelotti.

'I think the two games against Barcelona are going to be beautiful, there will be no lack of quality.'

Milan are peaking at the right time, going into the game on the back of Friday's 1-0 Milan derby triumph against Inter - a result that gives them an outside chance of stealing the Scudetto as they now stand just five points behind leaders Juventus with four Serie A games remaining.

'We are in very good shape right now,' said Ancelotti.

'I hope the team wins and if we don't concede a goal it would be even better.'

Ancelotti revealed that Barca's Brazilian sensation Ronaldinho will not be man-marked during the game, something which his former team-mate at Milan, Barca boss Frank Rijkaard, will be happy to hear.

'We've never played man-mark tactics,' said Ancelotti.

'We will try to control Ronaldinho in the zone where he will play but he will not have a specific marker.'

The Spaniards will be relieved Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi is out of action with the flu.

Inzaghi's goal against Lyon in the quarter-final tie allowed Milan to progress but Ancelotti still has Alberto Gilardino who, despite having yet to find the net in European competition, is one of the biggest talents in Italy.

There is also the awesome talent of the team's top scorer, Andriy Shevchenko.

Shevchenko, who has netted nine goals in the Champions League this term, is confident that even without Inzaghi Milan will come up with the goods.

'The absence of one player shouldn't hinder a team,' he said.

'We will not have Inzaghi but we have other great players that are sturdy replacements.'

The Ukrainian forward does not consider the clash to be a showdown between Ronaldinho and himself.

'This game is not Shevchenko versus Ronaldinho,' he said.

'The most important thing is the group, the spirit of the group.

'We have an experienced team and are ready for everything.'

The good news for Ancelotti is the recovery of central defender Jaap Stam who missed the Milan derby through injury.