Former Champions In Playoff Scrap

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Teenage prodigy Zakaria Bakkali is an injury doubt for PSV. Image courtesy of
1988 winner PSV Eindhoven  hosts seven-time European champion AC Milan  in the first leg of their Champions League Playoff tie at Philips Stadion on Wednesday morning (AEST). Only one of the European heavyweights will progress to the group stage of the competition, with the loser of the two-legged playoff tie condemned to the group stage of the Europa League.

Teenage prodigy Zakaria Bakkali and former Manchester United star Park Ji-sung are both doubtful for the Dutch club with groin and hamstring injuries respectively. Belgian winger Bakkali, who scored a hat-trick on his second appearance for the club earlier this month, picked up a small tear in his groin while on international duty last week, while Park is yet to feature for since re-joining the club on loan from QPR before the start of the season.

With the Serie A season not yet underway in Italy, AC Milan is yet to play a competitive match this season and is lacking the match-fitness that the Eredivisie runners-up have, but will still field a strong side. Mario Balotelli has been cleared to play after missing Italy’s friendly against Argentina with a knee injury last week and is expected to be joined by the likes of Nigel De Jong and Kevin-Prince Boateng in the starting side. Mattia De Sciglio, Luca Antonini and Robinho are all unavailable through injury however.

PSV tuned up for this tie with a 3-0 victory over the Go Ahead Eagles in the Eredivisie on Saturday and will be looking to continue the form that has seen it win all three league matches this season in a bid to reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in five years. These clubs were pitted against each other in the group stage during the 2005/06 season, with PSV winning 1-0 at home before the sides played out a scoreless draw  in Italy.

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