Advancement on line for AC Milan at Zurich

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> AC Milan will be looking to secure a place in the knockout round of the Champions League when it travels to FC Zurich on Tuesday.

Updated: December 08, 2009 14:51 IST
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AC Milan will be looking to secure a place in the knockout round of the Champions League when it travels to FC Zurich on Tuesday.

The seven-time European champions have been in dismal form in the competition at the San Siro this year, losing to Zurich in October and managing only home draws against Real Madrid and Marseille.

Wins in Madrid and Marseille have been the key for Milan, and the Serie A team will ensure qualification by extending its run against a struggling Zurich side that is fourth from last in the Swiss league.

"We've got to aim for a win in Zurich," Milan general manager Adriano Galliani said.

A draw would be enough if Marseille fails to win at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid, but Galliani said Monday that the Italians shouldn't count on outside help.

"We've got to play with all our strength," he said.

Milan has recovered from a slow start to its Serie A season and is in second place, only four points behind Inter Milan, after routing Sampdoria 3-0 Saturday for its fifth consecutive league victory.

Under new coach Leonardo, Milan began the season with only nine points from its opening seven matches but has been nearly perfect since, drawing only once and taking 22 points from its last eight games.

The key has been Ronaldinho, who set up Milan's opening two goals against Sampdoria before exiting with a muscle problem. He should be ready for Marseille, and could join forwards Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello up front, with Clarence Seedorf tucked just behind in midfield.

"Finally I'm playing again in my favorite position on the left wing, like earlier at Barcelona," Ronaldinho said.

For Zurich, the match is close to irrelevant. It has only the win in Milan and cannot qualify for the knockout round of the Champions League or gain backdoor entry into the second-tier Europa League.

But victory would provide $1.2 million in prize money, and boost morale after only three wins in 12 matches since the shock upset of Milan. That run has included losses to such unheralded domestic foes as FC Xamax and Bellinzona, and continued with a 1-0 loss to Grasshoppers on Saturday.

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