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Milan's new young star: Stephan El Shaarawy
The Rossoneri have had a torrid start to the season. Having lost almost an entire starting 11 of players through transfers or retirements during the summer, Milan have understandably struggled to bed in a new side so far this term.
Despite their lowly 11th place in Serie A, though, there are signs that they may be on an upward curve. A 1-0 defeat to Inter in the Derby della Madonnina was ill-deserved, and in the Champions League, they'll take heart from having survived a scare against Zenit. Having led 2-0 early on, the Russians pulled it back to 2-2, but coming through this type of match with a 3-2 victory will be encouraging.
When I previewed the group here, I spoke about how an October away game in St. Petersburg could be Milan's biggest challenge, but Malaga have now emerged as the main rivals in Group C. The next game, away to the Spaniards, will be key to determining the group winners, but Il Diavolo should scrape into the top two regardless.
Much like Milan, Malaga are coming off a difficult summer with high-profile players leaving to consolidate their debts. But the Spanish club have come through it seemingly stronger than ever, winning their first two Champions League games and sitting third in La Liga—ahead of Real Madrid.
Their game against Milan will be the toughest European test yet, particularly with the Italians desperate for a victory to kick-start their stuttering season.
With Zenit looking thus far unable to turn their top players into a cohesive team, though, both Malaga and Milan should go through—it just depends on the order.