The notorious AC Milan will start their Champions League campaign at the San Siro against the Scottish champions Celtic.
Celtic are rolling of late, having won four of their first five domestic matches and drawing the fifth so far. The Serie A has not been as kind to Milan, who have only managed four points through three games, leaving them ninth in the table.
The last time these two teams faced one another in the Group Stage of the Champions League was was in 2007 when the Scots were able to top the Italians 2-1 in the United Kingdom. The last three visits to AC Milan have been far less successful for Celtic, though, who have lost their last three games on the road to the Italians.
Milan will be without the services of a few key players, including the particularly gifted Stephan El Shaarawy and Brazilian maestro Kaka.
Centre-back Steven Mouyokolo will miss the match for Celtic.
Crucial for the visiting side will be stemming the early momentum that Milan is likely to gain from the home crowd. The slow start to their domestic campaign will add even more motivation for the Italian club to do well in Champions League. The first 15 minutes of the first half the Hoops must be focused, keep possession when possible and ensure they have at least nine players behind the ball.
The aforementioned possession might be tough to come by for the Bhoys as Milan are currently in fourth in the Serie A in possession rate per game this season, holding the ball on average 57.8 percent of their games per WhoScored?.
Milan have also connected 86.7 percent of their passes so far in the 2013-14 Serie A, again the fourth best rate in the league to date per WhoScored?.
Another key for Celtic will be slowing the eccentric Mario Balotelli, who leads Milan in domestic goals so far this season with two. His is forever dangerous with blazing pace and intricate technique.
The first match is always critical in the Champions League, so it will certainly be fascinating to see the sort of tactics the two teams deploy.
Who will gain the edge?
What: AC Milan vs. Celtic FC, Champions League Group Stage, Leg I
When: Wednesday, September 18, 2013. 2:45 p.m. EST
Where: San Siro, Milan, Italy
TV: Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Ohio, MSG Plus
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
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