Unexpected good news for coach Ronald Koeman before the CL-quarter final match against AC Milan. After training on Monday the coach went to Jari Litmanen. Would the Finnish midfielder be able to play on Tuesday, maybe for about 20 minutes? Jari nodded. Shouldn't be a problem. Koeman consequently added Litmanen to his squad and left Jamal Akachar out. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back to full fitness as well.
On the last training session before the match against the Italian giants, Zlatan Ibrahimovic mainly worked out with Marco van Basten. The former AC Milan star played footvolley with the striker, did passing drills and practiced finishing with the Swede. Then Koeman brought Ibrahimovic on to the pitch, where he played a firm scrimmage with his team. Ibrahimovic took Van der Vaart's place who went down a line and Sneijder went to play for the other team. Koeman: ,,Zlatan says he is fit. He trained and we couldn't see him having any problems. He has really focussed on tomorrow and we assume that he is back to full health and that he will play.
Litmanen is also healthy. Koeman: ,,I asked him if he was fit enough for twenty minutes. Of course he lacks rhythm, but I think I will only play him for a short while and it doesn't take that much. It did surprise me that he is back.
Koeman had an important task for Yakubu in training. The man from Ghana played before the two central defenders Pasanen and Chivu. ,,I cannot confirm that he'll play yet, Koeman said at the press conference. ,,The players dodn't know the line up yet, I will tell them tomorrow morning. I have a certain idea about the match and it could be a good option to play with Yakubu.
It is important not to concede any goals at home. Koeman: ,,For the first time in the Champions League things are different. It's now only two matches. It is vital that we keep a clean slate, but it should not mean that we will play too conservatively. I think AC Milan can be compared to Valencia, they play from a solid defence and have dangerous strikers. And they have good players on the wings. Ancelotti will choose Seedorf or voor Rui Costa. The only thing we don't know about Milan is who are going to play. How they play we know.
Koeman could also gain soem information from his intern Marco van Basten, who played for AC Milan for many years. ,,I did ask him a couple of things. But that information should only be for us. I hope he doesn't inform the opponent about us.
Koeman put the pressure on AC Milan. ,,They are the favourites. Although we are hard to beat. We have often seen that it is not only quality that makes the difference. With the crowd behind us we have a chance. It certainly is not only luck that has brought us to the quarter final. Tomorrow we will have to play with confidence, know our place i the footballing world and respect the opponent, without fearing them. If we can show waht we have shown before against Valencia and Arsenal, we have a shot.