Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Maldini: Arsenal Different From Liverpool

Milan defender and captain Paolo Maldini hailed Arsenal's enthusiasm ahead of tonight's clash between the two sides at the Emirates in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.

Maldini is set to play in tonight's important first leg game against the Gunners and he analyzed Arsene Wenger's side - he believes they are an entirely different team when compared to Liverpool, whom Milan defeated last season in the Champions League final.

Arsenal Threat

"They have a lot of enthusiasm and this year they have found continuity," declared the Italian legend. "It's more difficult to face them than last season.

"Arsenal are a very different team compared to Liverpool," he continued. "They play the ball on the ground without long balls forward.
He also spoke about the game being billed as a clash of generations.

"This game was presented as a clash between a young team and one less young," he mused.

"In reality, Milan have simply understood that you can win with a mix of experienced and young players."

Keeper Woes

He later added to The Sporting Life that he had full faith in veteran stopper Valerio Fiori, who is set to don the gloves for the first time since 2003, unless Zeljko Kalac can recover in time for kick-off.

"The team have full confidence in all three of our goalkeepers. I am sure he will do well.

"Obviously, he may be nervous in the first minute, but we have faith."

Coach Carlo Ancelotti, however, admitted that he was reluctant to confirm that the 38-year-old would start.

"We will try Kalac on Wednesday. If he's in a condition to play, he will. Otherwise, Fiori will play," said the Milan boss.

"I am not sure he will make it in time to recover, even though he says he feels okay.

"If not, we have full trust and confidence in Fiori. I won't be losing sleep on that front."

Coach's View

Carlo continued, "We can even lose this first leg. We lost in Manchester," he said.

"It is important to understand that we can still do it even if we lose this first leg. We can win the return match.

"We will need personality and character to win this game.

"The success of AC Milan in the last few years has always been about finding that personality and character.

"I am confident. We still have a lot of motivation to do well in this competition, and we are very determined to get through.

"We have the qualities to get through this tie."