Search Menu

Champions League 07/08 Group D Preview: AC Milan, Benfica, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk

Share

Group D sees two rivalries from the last season resurrected as Benfica and Celtic meet again in the group phase and Celtic come face to face with last season’s 2nd round opponents and eventual winners AC Milan.

While you’d expect Milan to top their group it’s by no means a guarantee, especially with Ronaldo injured. Any of the three teams could win the group – the only sure thing is that it will be fiercely contested and a close thing at the end.

Milan, Celtic and Shakhtar Donetsk have featured in the group stages together once before in the 2004/2005 Champions League.

Let’s look at the fixtures list before going team by team and analysing past matchups between these four teams.

Teams

AC Milan (Italy)
Benfica (Portugal)
Celtic (Scotland)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)

Fixtures

Matchday One – Tuesday – 18 Sep 2007

AC Milan vs Benfica
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Celtic

Matchday Two – Wednesday – 3 Oct 2007

Celtic vs AC Milan
Benfica vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Matchday Three – Wednesday – 24 Oct 2007

Benfica vs Celtic
AC Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Matchday Four – Tuesday – 6 Nov 2007

Celtic vs Benfica
Shakhtar Donetsk vs AC Milan

Matchday Five – Wednesday – 28 Nov 2007

Benfica vs Milan
Celtic vs Shakhtar Donetsk

*Matchday Six – Tuesday – 04 Dec 2007

AC Milan vs Celtic FC
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Benfica

*Matchday Six for AC Milan’s group (Group D) will be held on 4th December due to AC Milan’s participation in the Fifa World Club tournament.

Team by Team

AC Milan

The European Champions are awesome opponents and will be favourites to winning the group. There’s a small matter of winning away at Benfica and Celtic though, and especially Celtic will cause Milan plenty of concern.

Being without their lead striker will also hamper Milan, although they’re a good enough side to cope without Ronaldo for a while. The real question is whether Kaka, Pirlo and Gattuso can stay fit and produce the same stellar performances in Europe when crunch time comes.

Their lack of striking options will hamper them although they have enough backup in midfield and defence to make conceding a goal a rare possibility.

Benfica

The 2005/2006 Champions League campaign saw Benfica reach the quarter finals and narrowly missed out on qualification to the 2nd round in the 2006/2007.

This year they’ve lost Simao to Atletico Madrid and on the surface this doesn’t look like a team that could comfortably dispatch Celtic for 3-0 at home the way they did last season.

Their Champions League campaign could hinge on their ability to win away at Shakhtar Donetsk, although they’ll also need to hold Milan to at least a draw at home to have a serious chance of qualifying from the group.

Freddy Adu may not feature much but he will be under the spotlight whenever he comes on – one to watch and it’ll be interesting to see whether he can finally do some justice to his talents.

Celtic

Interestingly enough, Celtic lost 3-0 away to Shaktar Donetsk the last time they were together in the group stages (Celtic lose 3-1 away to Milan as well), although this season Celtic are expected to do much better.

I fancy Celtic to cause an upset in this group – they’ll fancy winning at Celtic Park but this is a team that has grown considerably in the last two seasons and you wouldn’t bet against them qualifying from this group.

The downside with Celtic is their unpredictability in away games – they can either play a blinder like they did against Milan or succumb to the pressure like they did against Benfica.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar Donetsk came 3rd in their group last season and with their good home record they’ll be a difficult proposition to beat this time again.

While I don’t expect Milan to lose to them, both Celtic and Benfica will have a real battle on their hands. The last time Celtic, Milan and Shaktar came together in the Champions League group stages, Shakhtar finished 3rd and Celtic finished 4.

Another group where you can’t predict #2 with any certainty, and if Shakhtar can get a good result against Milan at home, anything is possible.

Previous Matchups

AC Milan vs Benfica

Champions Cup 1962/1963 – Milan beat Benfica 2-1 to win the title.
Champions Cup 1989/1990 – Milan again beat Benfica, this time 1-0, to win the title.
Champions League 1994/1995 – Milan met Benfica in the quarter finals and beat them 2-0 at home before picking up a 0-0 draw in the away leg.

AC Milan vs Celtic

Champions Cup 1968/1969 – Drew the home leg before beating Celtic 1-0 away. Milan won the Cup that season.
Champions League 2004/2005 – Milan won 3-1 at home before drawing 0-0 away.
Champions League 2006/2007 – Meeting in the 2nd round, Milan drew 0-0 away at Celtic Park before winning 1-0 at the San Siro in extra time.

AC Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Champions League 2004/2005 – Milan won 1-0 away before winning 4-0 at home.

Benfica vs Celtic

Champions Cup – 1969/1970 – Celtic won 3-0 at home, lost 3-0 away and progressed in the Cup where they ended as runners up.
Champions League – Benfica lost 3-0 away before winning 3-0 at home.

Benfica vs Shakhtar Donetsk

No previous encounters.

Celtic vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Champions League 2004/2005 – Celtic lost 3-0 away and won 1-0 at home.

Predictions

1. AC Milan
2. Celtic
3. Shakhtar Donetsk
4. Benfica

Comments and predictions are welcome.

You can read the full 07/08 Champions League preview here.

Also Read: 07/08 Champions League Group Stage Draw and 07/08 Champions League Fixtures List.

Football Expert? Prove it! Share your knowledge, tips and comments. Win cash prizes - £11,000 monthly! Join OLBG's free-to-enter tipping competition.

Comments are closed