Tue, Nov 02, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Spanish teams can redeem themselves in upcoming games

AP , LONDON

Barcelona and Valencia get second chances against two troublesome Italian clubs this week in the Champions League.

Barca's target is AC Milan, which defeated the Catalans 1-0 two weeks ago in Europe's top club tournament. Valencia gets another shot today at Inter Milan after losing 5-1 in Spain a fortnight ago.

Under the Champions League format, each of the 16 games today and tomorrow is a rematch from two weeks ago.

In the Group F, AC Milan is perfect through three games. Another victory would improve Milan to 12 points and guarantee its place in the knockout second stage.

Spanish league leader Barca, in second place with six points, is coming off a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao, and AC Milan is fresh from beating Sampdoria 1-0. Andriy Shevchenko scored the winner for Milan, just hours after his wife gave birth on Friday.

Barca will be relying on Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, who is Spain's top scorer with eight in nine games.

AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi and defender Jaap Stam are out injured, and both may be headed to surgery -- Inzaghi for his left ankle and Stam for leg tendon problems.

"Against Barcelona I want to see our best team because we can't risk anything," club president Adriano Galliani said. "If we lose and Shaktar beats Celtic, the group would be wide open, and I don't even want to think about that possibility."

Argentine striker Hernan Crespo was bothered by muscle problems at the beginning of the season and played a full 90 minutes for the first time against Sampdoria.

"Against Barcelona it will be a very important match," Crespo said. "They will try to impose their play and we'll have to be intelligent to steal the ball and create counterattacks."

In Group G, Inter Milan is also perfect with nine points, and could secure its spot into the next round with a win. Inter is coming off a 1-1 draw against Lazio. Valencia drew 1-1 over the weekend with Atletico Madrid. Valencia will be without midfielder Pablo Aimar, who suffered a head injury in the game.

Inter's Christian Vieri is hoping to play after missing the last two league matches with a leg injury. The club's other top striker, Brazil's Adriano, has taken on a leadership role in Vieri's absence.

"We have to get our minds right and be more focused and maybe more nasty, looking to close games quicker," Adriano said.

Group E is wide open with PSV on top (6 points) followed by Arsenal (5), Panathinaikos (4) and Rosenborg (1). The key game finds the Greeks at Arsenal. Two weeks ago, the two drew 2-2 in Athens.

Panathinaikos is coming off a 4-0 league win over Panionios. Polish international Emmanuel Olisadebe, who scored the equalizer against Arsenal, was rested in the match.

"We will do everything we can to get a result at Arsenal," said Dimitris Papadopoulos, who scored twice on Saturday.

Arsenal is struggling. The Gunners lost 2-0 at Man United a week ago -- ending a 49-game unbeaten league string. On Saturday, the Gunners needed an injury-time goal from Robin van Persie to draw 2-2 at Highbury against lowly Southampton.

In Group H, Chelsea is also perfect with three wins in three games. A draw or a victory would put the Blues into the knockout stage. Chelsea is up against Moscow CSKA.

The race for second shows CSKA (4 points) followed by Paris St. Germain (3) and Porto (1).

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