MILAN: AC Milan striker Alberto Gilardino is aware he has not scored enough this season but he still believes he can get the nod ahead of Filippo Inzaghi for tomorrows Champions League final with Liverpool.
If captain Paolo Maldini shakes off a knee problem then Milans starting line-up in Athens appears to be almost fixed.
Carlo Ancelottis only selection issue is whether to go with the pace of Gilardino or the experience and goal-poaching of 33 year-old Inzaghi.
Ive played often but havent scored many goals but now it is a very important final for Milan so I will try to do my best and be determined, Gilardino said.
Competition between strikers has always been our strength.
Italy is split about who Ancelotti should choose at the top of the Christmas tree with Kaka playing just off the front man and midfield enforcers Clarence Seedorf and Gennaro Gattuso just behind along with Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini.
From the point of view of the pressure that the Champions League brings, Inzaghi is favourite as Gilardino clearly doesnt have the experience of Pippo, Ancelotti said last week.
But Gilardino is good at running the channels and he drops back to support the midfielders which is very important, while Pippo is a finisher and comes less to meet the midfield.
Milan president and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi suggested a way of getting around the selection dilemma.
In the first half I would play Gilardino so he can stretch the Liverpool defence and in the second half I would take advantage of the speed of Inzaghi to punish the fatigue of the English, he said.
Ancelotti is expected to delay his decision until hours before the kick-off in Athens. Reuters