AC Milan and Chievo in early battle for Champions League spot

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AC Milan and Chievo in early battle for Champions League spot
Chievo currently sit in fifth spot in Italy's Serie A, a single point back of AC Milan, as they chase a coveted Champions League spot. The two sides will go head-to-head at the San Siro stadium in Milan on Saturday in one of the featured matches from Serie
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Chievo, who finished 14th in Serie A last season have been impressive thus far with three wins, one draw, and only two defeats from their opening six matches. Chievo managed an impressive 3-1 win over third place Napoli, and fought hard in a 1-0 defeat to
league leaders Lazio. Chievo have made it clear that they are a much improved side from a year ago and hope to be real contenders for one of the four Champions League spots by the end of the season.
AC Milan who took one of those four spots by finishing third last season, and currently sit in fourth place tied on 11 points with Napoli and last season's champions Inter Milan. Milan, however, haven't had any big results against any real contenders with
the exception of managing a 1-1 draw with Lazio. AC Milan were even defeated 2-0 by lowly Cesena who currently sit in the bottom five. In the Champions League, AC Milan were unfortunately drawn into the "group of death" pitted against the likes of Auxerre,
Ajax, and Real Madrid. Their Champions League campaign began positively with a win against Auxerre, but they had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Ajax in Amsterdam.
Players to watch
Chievo are led up front by striker Sergio Pellissier who has half of his team's goals with four. While they boast a lineup full of Italians, they do not have a single player who has suited for the Italian National team in the country's recent Euro 2012 qualifiers.
AC Milan, on the other hand, have their share of Italian and foreign internationals. Of the Italians, defenders Alessandro Nesta and Gianluca Zambrotta, along with defensive midfielder Andrea Pirlo, are the most notable. Up front, Milan are led by Swedish
international Zlatan Ibrahimovic who some are speculating might be out of the lineup as he is suffering recently from a mild hernia problem. Step in Brazilian wonder child Alexandre Pato who, after a return spell with the Brazilian National team, appears to
have regained his confidence and appears ready to fill in.
"I am happy to have returned to the national team. I have confidence in my play. Moreover I am sure that by continuing to express myself to the maximum at Milan I will keep being called up to Brazil."
What to expect
Although Milan have all the big names and the long history which would make them clear favorites, Chievo are a popular dark horse. After two games without a goal, look for Chievo to create something on the counter-attack with Pellissier lurking deep
in the Milan half and around the penalty area.
Milan's focus could well be on other things as they prepare for a huge midweek tie against Real Madrid in the Champions League. Look for Chievo to pull off the upset 1-0.



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