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AC Milan have Champions League berth at hand

Milan - AC Milan have a chance to secure a mouthwatering fourth place in the Italian Serie A Wednesday as they welcome lowly Livorno for the last of three games they have in hand.

A win would push the Devils up on 39 points, one clear of Fiorentina, to join the four-team pack that plays the next Champions League.

 Milan are currently defending their seventh European title won in 2007 and on February 20 face Arsenal as the continental tournament resumes with its knock-out stage after a winter break.

 The game against the Tuscany side was cancelled in December as Milan played and won the Club World Cup in Japan.

 At the Giuseppe Meazza, the red-blacks' coach Carlo Ancelotti welcomes back from suspension striker Alberto Gilardino, who could have new hero Alberto Paloschi as striking mate.

 The youth-team forward, 18, Sunday helped Milan snatch a 1-0 win over tough visitors Siena. His winning drive set a new record for Serie A debutants as he fired it home 18 seconds after coming on, which happened 18 minutes into the second half.

 "Sincerely, I did not think to come on that early," Paloschi said. "I expected to play the last five minutes."

   Coach Ancelotti said he had considered fielding him from the start next to veteran Filippo Inzaghi, given the imperfect form of Brazil star Ronaldo, "but then I decided not to put him under too much pressure.

 "Anyway, he seems to be destined for success: with three goals in three games he is our striker with the best scoring average."

   Paloschi was twice on target in the Italian Cup, although Milan did not avert relegation in a two-leg qualifier with Catania.

  On Wednesday, he may well play part of the game against Livorno as Brazilian rising star Alexandre Pato nurses a swollen ankle. Pato, also 18, scored four goals in six games since debuting in January.

 Livorno, meanwhile, are in for two gruelling games at the Giuseppe Meazza, where Saturday they tackle leaders Inter Milan, on 56 points.

 They lie on 22 points, just three clear of the three-team relegation zone, after a 1-1 draw with Genoa on the weekend.


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