With just two points separating the two sides going into Tuesday night's tie at Parkhead; matchday five's meeting between Celtic and A.C. Milan could prove decisive in the race for second place in group H.
Ahead of the fixture however, under-fire A.C. Milan coach, Massimiliano Allegri, has suggested that while the game is important for his side, it may not be a pivotal tie in Milan's Champions League campaign:
"It is an important game, but it may not be the determining game to get into the next round."
"Undoubtedly the fixture will be difficult for us, as Celtic are known for their strong performances at home in European competitions. It’ll be a great evening and should be faced with real tactical attentiveness. We will also try to play technically good football. We have to separate the league from the Champions League. We have to get a result tomorrow as the second objective of the season is to get into the last 16 stage of the competition; the first objective was to qualify.”
Milan's recent form in the Serie A has been well below par. Their run of one win in seven Serie A games has seen the Italian giants drop down to 11th in the league table, prompting widespread outrage among the Rossoneri faithul. Allegri, during his press conference, accepted that his team's performances of late have been sub-standard, but he suggested that their is a lot to be optimistic for in the future:
"The first part of the season is now behind us. In the league we have a few more games that we can win to get back up the table and then there’s the Coppa Italia as well as the last 16 of the Champions League."
"We'll have to improve, as what we’ve done so far in the league is not enough. The team shouldn’t be thinking about what happens outside the changing room. Of course there’s bitterness and disappointment among the fans: we feel it too and so does everyone who works for the club. We have to do everything we can to do better and to do that, we need to have the fan's support."
In contrast to A.C. Milan, Celtic have enjoyed a comfortable start to their SPFL campaign, and are unsurprisingly maintaining a vice-like grip upon the top spot. However, Neil Lennon's men have had a less fortunate start to their UEFA Champions League campaign, sitting at the bottom of the group with just three points on the board. Due to this, Lennon has stated that Tuesday night's game is a must win for his side:
"In the context of the Champions League, it's our biggest game of the season because we know we have to win. Qualifying from the group stages this season would unquestionably be a bigger achievement than last season, because it is a much tougher group, and we are currently in the process of rebuilding the squad."
Despite Milan's poor run of form in the Serie A, Neil Lennon has stated that his side will be very wary of the quality they possess, but they will undoubtedly attack Milan tomorrow night:
"They could be a wounded animal and that's always a dangerous proposition no matter who you face. They'll have their pride. They have some world-class players, players who are class acts and who have been at the top level of the game for a concerted period of time. This team is dangerous as they've beaten before, drawn with Barca, and drawn away in Amsterdam, so their results in the group have been solid."
"We'll try to take the game to Milan at every opportunity. I think that's imperative."
Celtic - Scott Brown remains suspended, while Forest and Stokes are set to return to the line up.
A.C. Milan - Abbiati, Coppola, Ferrari; Abate, Bonera, Constant, Silvestre, Zapata; Birsa, Cristante, De Jong, Emanuelson, Kaka, Montolivo, Nocerino, Poli; Balotelli, Matri, Robinho.