Football: Struggling Milan seek respite

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The Independent Online
Milan, who have been plagued by poor form and injuries so far this season, will be hoping for another successful trip to Scandinavia when they play Gothenburg in the European Champions' League today.

Milan beat Rosenborg 4-1 in Norway last month, with Marco Simone scoring a hat-trick in Trondheim and George Weah getting the other goal.

Simone missed the 3-0 defeat at Roma in Serie A on Saturday with an injury, but he returns to partner Weah in attack as Milan look for a second victory in Group D.

Gothenburg confirmed their domination of Swedish football at the weekend by winning their fourth successive league title with two matches to spare. Andreas Andersson and Stefan Pettersson scored two goals each in a 6- 0 away victory at Trelleborg, which keeps Gothenburg in next season's Champions' League. However, they have had a miserable time this season, losing to Rosenborg and Porto.

Milan's coach, Oscar Tabarez, has been forced to make sweeping changes to his team. Edgar Davids, Dejan Savicevic and Stefano Eranio are all injured and Pietro Vierchowod is cup-tied.

Franco Baresi, who played his first game in over six weeks on Saturday, is expected to play against Gothenburg despite being less than 100 per cent fit. To provide extra cover for Baresi, Tabarez may move Marcel Desailly back to central defence in place of the out-of-form Alessandro Costacurta.

Two younger members of the squad, Massimo Ambrosini, 19, and Tomas Locatelli, 20, are expected to play in midfield alongside Demetrio Albertini and Zvonimir Boban.

Boban, who was suspended on Saturday, said he hoped the defeat would spur the side on. "It [the defeat by Roma] wasn't nice to look at, not at all," he said. We had better show some character and react."

Boban's sentiments were shared by Costacurta, who said: "Thank goodness we now have a cup match. I don't know what exactly is happening at the moment. We're conceding goals that, if not inexplicable, are at least worrying."

Gothenburg (probable): Ravelli; Johansson, Lucic, Nilsson, Landberg, Martinsson, Mild, Erlingmark, Blomqvist, Petterson, Andersson.

Milan (probable): Rossi; Panucci, Maldini, Desailly, Baresi, Locatelli, Albertini, Ambrosini, Boban, Weah, Simone.

n Paris St-Germain, the holders, will be without Leonardo for the away leg against Galatasaray in the second round of the European Cup- Winners' Cup tomorrow.

Leonardo, whose seven goals and incisive midfield play have helped PSG establish a seven-point lead in the French First Division, has been called up by Mario Zagallo to play in Brazil's friendly at home to Lithuania.

His team-mate Vincent Guerin said: "We'll surely miss him. But we have enough good players to manage without him."

PSG's manager, Ricardo, a fellow Brazilian, said: "His absence is serious but I have a good squad and I'm not worried."

Laurent Fournier will probably move into Leonardo's attacking midfield role, with Jose Cobos coming into the defence.