AC Milan have received an injury boost ahead of the Champions League visit of Tottenham on Tuesday but it does not regard one of their own players.
Welsh wing wonder Gareth Bale has been ruled out of the second round with a back injury from the first leg tie at the San Siro and one person in particular, Milan right back Ignazio Abate, will be heaving a huge sigh of relief.
Memories of Bale in Milan are still vivid following his scorching hat-trick against Inter in the Champions League group stage match that ended 3-4 in the same stadium. The problem has kept him out for around three weeks.
“I’d like to be able to scare Milan and say he’s going to be available, but he’s not,” said Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp who is likely to play Wilson Palacios and Sandro as they are the only central midfielders who are fit.
Looking at Milan’s own options, they too are missing a crucial element in midfield playmaker Andrea Pirlo who is out with a knee injury.
They are already without the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Massimo Ambrosini, due to injury, while Mark van Bommel and Urby Emanuelson are not eligible having already played in the competition for Bayern Munich and Ajax respectively.
And with forward Antonio Cassano likewise ruled out having played for Sampdoria earlier, an under-strength Milan will take the field at San Siro.
Raul to lead schalke
Valencia, spain: Spanish legend Raul Gonzalez has an emotional return to his homeland as his Schalke 04 side travel to two-time runners-up Valencia on Tuesday for the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie at the Mestalla stadium.
Raul, 33, ended his 16-year love affair with Real Madrid in the summer to join German side Schalke and hopes for a successful return to Spain as Schalke look to seize the upper hand in a tie between two of the lesser fancied teams left in the competition.
“It certainly won’t be easy but, personally, I’ve got good memories from playing there,” said Raul. “Valencia are a great team but this is going to be a very even tie.
“It’s a really great incentive for me especially playing against such a strong rival and in a stadium that generates a great atmosphere. It’s an extraordinary setting to play a Champions League game.”
Valencia are third in the Spanish top tier after winning 2-1 at Atletico Madrid on Saturday and have the better pedigree in this competition having reached successive finals in 2000 and 2001.
Schalke, who topped their group and conceded a miserly three goals, are having a torrid domestic season lying 10th in the German league, although they race to a 1-0 home win over Freiburg on Saturday.
“We were not clinical enough in front of goal but the win will lift us for the games ahead, starting with the Champions League match at Valencia,” said coach Felix Magath.