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Reds on guard against Milan maestro Kaká

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Reds on guard against Milan maestro Kaká

Postby FCBayernNews » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:25 pm


On Tuesday night, Bayern return to the Giuseppe Meazza stadium - the venue where the Bavarians sealed the 2001 European crown - determined to avenge last year's sobering 4-1 defeat to AC Milan at the same ground and lay the foundations for a place in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in six years.

Ottmar Hitzfeld's men have won just once in eight meetings with the <i>Rossoneri</i> down the years, a record the current generation will be looking to improve in midweek. But if that is to happen, Bayern know they will have to neutralise the potent threat posed by home playmaker and undisputed superstar Kaká.

<b>Top scorer in Champions League</b>

Following the departure of Andriy Shevchenko to Chelsea, the gifted 24-year-old schemer is the main creative and strategic influence on the north Italian side. Equally adept as a provider and a finisher, the man recently handed the near-sacred number 10 shirt by Brazil boss Carlos Dunga almost invariably has a hand in all AC's productive attacking moves.

Kaká has scored six of Milan's nine Champions League goals so far this term, including the only goal of the tie which saw the Italians repel the brave challenge of Glasgow underdogs Celtic in the last round. The Brazilian is running neck-and-neck with Ruud van Nistelrooy at the head of the goalscoring chart, but whereas penalty-box striker Van Nistelrooy has shot at goal 13 times, Kaká betters that with an impressive 16 goal attempts.

<b>'Milan's most dangerous player'</b>

"With Ronaldo cup-tied, he's Milan's most dangerous player," Bayerns chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge warned. "He's a fabulous player, an exceptional talent, and the best player in the world at the present time along with Ronaldinho," Owen Hargreaves declared admiringly of Ricardo Izecson Santos Leite, Kaká's given name. "Sidelining him will be immensely difficult."

The England international will team up with Andreas Ottl in the effort to throttle Kaká's promptings before they become dangerous. "Without Shevchenko, Milan aren't as good as they were last season. Kaká is their key player, and we'll have to keep an eye on him. It'll be a tremendous job," Hargreaves continued.

<b>No designated marker for Kaká</b>

Hitzfeld will not order man-to-ma marking for Kaka, "but covering him will be a central element in our tactics, the Bayern boss confirmed. "We'll operate an aggressive pressing system in midfield. We're going to alter our zones a little though and keep it even tighter through the middle. Wherever he goes, we need two or three players ready to close in on him." However, as Hitzfeld acknowledged by way of a conclusion, Kaká "is a lot easier to close down in theory than in practice."

The Italain sporting press certainly believes Milan's success or failure rests on the Brazilian's artistry. "I know I have a certain degree of responsibility," the player himself accepted, "but there's more to AC Milan than just Kaká. We have great individuals who can win matches when it doesn't work out for me."

<b>Kaká's respect for Reds</b>

AC are a massive 35 points behind local rivals Inter in the Serie A title race, so their only hope of silver ware is the Champions League. "We'll do everything we can to win," Kaká declared, professing "enormous respect" for the men from Munich. "We can only beat them if we concentrate throughout both matches."
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