Football: Zaccheroni desperate for Milan victory in Istanbul

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ALBERTO ZACCHERONI guided Milan to the Scudetto less than six months ago, but his position at the San Siro may be under threat if his men crash out of the Champions' League tonight at Galatasaray.

With the Rossoneri fourth in Serie A, trailing Lazio by four points, speculation is rife in the Italian press that Zaccheroni may be forced out. The Italian champions must win their final group match at the Ali Sami Yen stadium and hope there is also a positive result in the game between Chelsea and Hertha Berlin at Stamford Bridge to stay alive in the competition.

Despite boasting a forward line of Germany's Oliver Bierhoff and Andriy Shevchenko, the pounds 15.7m signing from Dinamo Kiev, Zaccheroni's team have only managed four goals in their five Group H games. To make matters worse, the Brazilian international Leonardo is suspended for the game and will be replaced by Federico Giunti in the playmaker role.

Galatasaray cannot qualify for the next stage of the Champions' League but the carrot of Uefa Cup qualification is still dangling before them and a victory against Zaccheroni's men will secure a spot in the third round of that competition.

In Group F, while Rangers need a positive result against Bayern Munich, the undefeated group leaders Valencia are already assured of qualification but will clinch top spot if they beat PSV Eindhoven at home.

The Argentinian striker Claudio Lopez has netted twice in the Champions' League so far and will partner either Adrian Ilie or Juan Sanchez Moreno as they look to extinguish PSV's hopes of Uefa Cup qualification.

The Dutch club are almost certain to lose their star striker Ruud van Nistelrooy if they fail to advance, with Leeds and a host of top European clubs in pursuit. The 23-year-old struck twice in Sunday's 3-0 win over AZ Alkmaar which saw PSV take the top spot in the Dutch league and took his personal tally to 18 goals, making him Europe's top scorer.

The first match between the pair finished 1-1 in Eindhoven, with Lopez's sensational fourth-minute volley cancelled out by Van Nistelrooy's 72nd- minute penalty.

Having lost their first four domestic league matches of the season, Valencia's Champions' League run is having a positive effect on their domestic form and they have lost only one of their last six games in the Spanish league - a run which included a 3-2 victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.