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Champions League Group C preview: Malaga set to cement knockout spot

Malaga will face their sternest test of the Champions League season so far when they travel to Italy to take on AC Milan on Tuesday.

The Spanish side are yet to concede a goal in what is their first season in the competition and lead Group C by five points after going undefeated in their opening three games.

A win at the San Siro will ensure Manuel Pellegrini’s side progress to the knockout round in what would be a huge boost to the financially-stricken club.

Winger Joaquin was the hero in the corresponding fixture on matchday three, scoring a second half winner after missing an early penalty to hand his side a 1-0 win.

However, Malaga will go into the game off the back of their first loss in five matches after they were beaten at home 2-1 by Rayo Vallecano in the La Liga on the weekend in a result which saw them concede third spot to Real Madrid.

AC Milan have endured a less than impressive start to their Euro campaign with Massimo Allegri’s men stuck on four points from three games.

After an opening day draw with Anderlecht and a 3-2 win over Zenit St Petersburg, Milan were defeated at Malaga.

Domestically, Milan are languishing in 11th place on the Serie A table, 14 points behind leaders Juventus. But an emphatic 5-1 win over Chievo on Saturday will give Milan hope they can turn their season around and they will go into the tie full of confidence.

Meanwhile, third-placed Zenit St Petersburg will travel to Anderlecht without star striker Hulk after the former Porto man sustained a thigh injury in his side’s 2-1 win over Rostov on Friday.

26-year-old Hulk, who was bought for 60 million euros in the summer, is a pivotal part of Zenit’s attack and will be sorely missed by Igor Korneev’s side.

Zenit are one point behind AC Milan and will be hoping to win without their record signing to ensure they give themselves the best chance of moving out of the group stage.

They face an Anderlecht side who have not won a Champions League home game since 2003 and simply must win in order to keep their slim chances of progression alive.

The Belgian champions are currently second on the Pro League table and come into the tie after two significant victories over Gent and Mechelen in their past two league games.

However, John van den Brom’s men are yet to record a win in this year’s Champions League, with a 0-0 draw with AC Milan on matchday one providing them with their only point so far.

The Belgian side, who have yet to score in the Champions League this season, will have to be at their best to get anything out of the game.

Mon 5 November, 2012
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