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5 Reasons Why Celtic Can Shock AC Milan

Sean MartinContributor INovember 25, 2013

5 Reasons Why Celtic Can Shock AC Milan

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    Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

    Just two points separate the sides as Celtic take on AC Milan this Tuesday in a crucial Champions League tie.

    The Hoops haven't really got going in this season's competition and will be staring total elimination in the face should they fail to beat the Rossoneri this matchday.

    Let's take a look at how things currently stand: 

    TeamPWDLGDPts
    Barcelona4310710
    Milan412105
    Ajax4112-44
    Celtic4103-33


    So if the Scottish champions can emerge from Tuesday's clash victorious, they may find themselves in second place going into the final round of matches if Barcelona defeat Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena.

    Here are five reasons why the Bhoys may do just that.

Celtic's Home Form

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    Home Bhoys: Celtic's European record at Parkhead is impressive
    Home Bhoys: Celtic's European record at Parkhead is impressiveJeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

    The Hoops are still unbeaten in the league this season after 13 games.

    Barcelona and (astoundingly) Greenock Morton are the only sides to have won at Parkhead in any competition this campaign.

    Regardless of overall performance, Neil Lennon's men seem capable of grinding out wins on their home ground—just this weekend they scored twice in the final four minutes to defeat Aberdeen 3-1.

    Celtic have an impressive home record when it comes to Europe's top competition.

    Over the past two seasons, they have played 12 home European matches—winning eight, drawing two and losing two (to Barcelona this season and Juventus in the Last 16 of the 2012/13 competition).

    Among those eight wins are notable victories against Barcelona, Ajax and Spartak Moscow.

    It's not unthinkable—it is perhaps even likely—that Milan will be added to that list come Tuesday night.

Milan's Form

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    Worrying: Milan have won only twice in the past two months
    Worrying: Milan have won only twice in the past two monthsDino Panato/Getty Images

    While Celtic are perched, unbeaten, atop the Scottish Premiership, Milan sit 11th in Serie A after 13 games.

    Since beating Sampdoria 1-0 at the end of September, the Rossoneri have won only once—that's one win in their last 10 games and only two in total since beating the Bhoys 2-0 in September.

    Five defeats and six draws since then, including the 1-1 with Genoa on Saturday, have the club in total disarray on the pitch.

    Things have gotten so bad that around 300 disgruntled Milan fans blocked the players' exit from the San Siro and confronted senior players Christian Abbiati and Kaka following the Genoa game.

    It bodes well for Celtic that Milan also haven't won away from the San Siro at all this season.

Allegri's Indecisiveness

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    Unsure: Allegri is under pressure again and doesn't seem to know his best team
    Unsure: Allegri is under pressure again and doesn't seem to know his best teamClaudio Villa/Getty Images

    Since defeating Celtic 2-0 in September, Massimiliano Allegri hasn't started the same team twice.

    He's tinkered with formations, positions and attacking combinations—and still his team can't find their feet domestically.

    Granted some of his selections—like the Celtic game—were influenced by a growing injury list and suspensions, but the only mainstay in the team since the first tie has been centre-back Cristian Zapata. 

    What is most worrying, however, is Allegri's indecision over who to start in the attacking positions.

    Alessandro Matri, Mario Balotelli and Kaka have started the last two matches together, while before that it was Kaka and Robinho, and before that Kaka, Balotelli and Valter Birsa. 

    You get the idea—when Kaka is fit, he starts. 

    Who to start alongside the Brazilian, and in what system, is Allegri's main problem—mightn't it be better to leave him out altogether?

    Well, their two wins since the Celtic game have both come when Kaka didn't start but, in general, he's looked better every passing game lately.

    When Kaka wasn't starting the attacking permutations have been Balotelli—Robinho—Birsa, Matri—Robinho—Birsa, Matri—Robinho, Balotelli—Robinho and Matri—Balotelli—Birsa.

    That said, the Rossoneri scored 11 goals in the seven games he didn't start, compared to only four in the six games he's started since returning to the line-up against Barcelona. 

    Indecisiveness permeates Allegri's team selection every other week; Celtic must hope that, if the 46-year-old is once again destined to turn around Milan's season, he doesn't begin on Tuesday.

     

Barbara Berlusconi

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    Coup: Barbara Berlusconi is ready to assume power at the San Siro
    Coup: Barbara Berlusconi is ready to assume power at the San SiroClaudio Villa/Getty Images

    It's not just on the field Milan are having problems; off it, they are in the midst of a boardroom revolution.

    Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of the infamous Silvio, has been cementing herself as the next top dog within the Rossoneri for a while now.

    Could she be putting in motion steps to get rid of vice president and club stalwart Adriano Galliani?

    The 29-year-old—christened "Lady B" by sections of the media—claims she wants new blood inserted into the club hierarchy and a change in business philosophy, but La Gazzetta dello Sport reports she has not asked her father to remove Gallaini. Surely she is looking to ensure Milan don't sell their best players a la 2012, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were sold to Paris Saint-Germain.

    As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport in April (h/t Pro Soccer Talk), she also hopes to find a replacement for Massimiliano Allegri for at least the end of the season—with ex-Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf touted as the man she wants at the helm.

    The uncertainty surrounding the club as a business, coupled with the poor form on the pitch and strained relationship with the fans at present, should work in Celtic's favour come Tuesday.

The Fans

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    Celtic never walk alone: the fans are renowned for their atmosphere on Champions League nights
    Celtic never walk alone: the fans are renowned for their atmosphere on Champions League nightsStu Forster/Getty Images

    The one constant of Celtic's fortunes in Europe, the supporters are renowned for their ability to drive the team to otherwise unlikely victories.

    Recent seasons have witnessed the Hoops support employ tifos to brilliant effect, while the sheer volume they manage to maintain can be rivalled by few clubs in the world and is praised by almost every player who faces them, including Milan legend Paolo Maldini: "Every professional footballer should seek to play at least one game at Celtic Park. I have never felt anything like it."

    There is no doubt the support will be in top form come Tuesday, it's up to the Celtic players to match their fans with an equally passionate and accomplished performance on the pitch.

     

     

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