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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Milan Seeks Winning Tonic

LONDON -- Unaccustomed underdogs AC Milan are desperate for a win in their Champions' League match against AEK Athens in Greece on Wednesday after a season's start dogged by bad form and bad luck.


The European champions are propping up Group D after losing their first match against Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 and having two points deducted following their 3-0 home win over Austria Salzburg because the visiting goalkeeper was hit by a bottle.


AC Milan coach Fabio Capello said if the UEFA punishment stuck, every match in the Champions' League from now on would amount to a sudden-death playoff.


But he was pinning his hopes on an appeal and the return to full fitness of a squad disrupted by a spate of injuries.


"I'm on my way to Athens in optimistic mood ... We'll go to try our hand (in Athens) while awaiting the appeal hearing in Zurich and those two points that are ours by rights," Capello said.


AEK, with one point from two matches so far, is looking to take advantage of any drop in Milanese morale.


AEK coach Dusan Bayevic, who has the advantage of being able to select from a fit squad, told his players they were perfectly capable of beating the Italian champions. "This is not the Milan we once knew," he said.


The group's leader, Ajax, goes from strength to strength. Unbeaten in the domestic league this season, Ajax intends to make light work of Salzburg on Wednesday night.


Group B leader Paris St. Germain, also with maximum points from the first two matches, visits second-placed Dinamo Kiev, confident in its European abilities despite erratic domestic play.


But St. Germain's biggest challenge in the group could come from Bayern Munich, which plays Wednesday at Spartak Moscow.


"We need to get a point in Moscow," Bayern manager Uli Hoeness said. "The team's form is improving all the time."


Last year's runners-up Barcelona plays the glamor match of the evening against Manchester United, which leads it by a point in the Group A standings.


For the first time this season, Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff can count on Romanian Gheorghe Hagi, Dutch defender Ronald Koeman, Bulgaria's Hristo Stoichkov and Brazil's Romario, who are all fit. But he would not say which one of the foreign quartet would be left out.


IFK Gothenburg, which also has two points, takes on Turkish champions Galatasaray, with one, in the other Group A match.


In Group C, Hajduk Split faces Anderlecht while Benfica is host to Steaua Bucharest.