Old Trafford, England
March 10, 2010
AC Milan face a daunting task ahead of them, as they travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the second leg of the UEFA Champion’s League round of sixteen. United emerged victorious in the first leg hosted at the San Siro, defeating the Italians for the first time in their own backyard and grabbing three vital away goals. The Italian giants will need to win by atleast two goals to progress to the next round of the Champions League, while the Red Devils aim to continue their march to the Santiago Bernabeau.
Having never gone past AC Milan in a knock-out fixture in the Champions League, the Old Trafford club will look to rewrite history when it takes on the Italian giants at the Theatre of Dreams. Avoiding a loss, or rather not losing by more than an odd goal, would see the Red Devils through to the next round.
Manchester United fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as Wayne Rooney returned to training on Tuesday, and is now almost certain to play a part in this high profile fixture. Michael Carrick is suspended for the game, after being sent off in the dying minutes of the San Siro encounter. Ryan Giggs is still out with a fractured arm, while John O’Shea, Michael Owen and Anderson continue to remain sidelined with injuries. Wes Brown has been added to the list, after he was substituted during the weekend win at Wolves.
This season, Manchester United’s home form in the Champion’s League has been surprisingly ordinary. United have won just one of their three home games in the group stage, lost to Besiktas and just about managed to draw against CSKA Moscow in the remaining two games.
From Manchester United’s Corner:
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have done the hard part well. The win at San Siro was the first time they had defeated the seven-time European champions in their own backyard. The 2-3 score line has made their job a bit easier, but stranger things have happened in football. The defeat has given Milan a licence to attack, the shackles have been removed, and a very open match could be on the cards. Manchester United would do well to treat this match as a must-win fixture.An early goal for the Devils will not only settle a few nerves, but also ensure that the OT faithfuls are at their vociferous best. The five-man midfield that Sir Alex prefers for these games will look to keep Milan’s midfield lynchpin Andry Pirlo relatively starved. Despite the media frenzy surrounding David Beckham, the biggest threat to United could come from the mercurial Dutchman – Clarence Seedorf. His late goal at the San Siro has certainly given Milan a faint hope of reaching the quarter-finals. Manchester United would do well to replicate the same counter-attacking football that they deployed so efficiently at the Emirates this January. Nani and Valencia are most likely to be the wide men, as Park would certainly be used in the centre, along with Scholes and Fletcher. It’s about time that United pull one over their old nemesis.
For AC Milan, the second leg fixture against Manchester United is about pride, as they will be yearning to avenge the defeat they suffered at the hands of the defending English champions. In their sixty plus years of European club football, it was the first time that Manchester United has gone on to defeat the Italian giants in Italy. English tabloids are creating a big hype over the return of David Beckham to Old Trafford,but as far as Milan is concerned, their hopes are not dependent on him. On the other hand, the inclusion of Pato, who missed the match against Roma, will certainly boast the morale of the Rossonerri ahead of Wednesday’s clash.
Milan will travel to Old Trafford with a full-strength team, as none of their players are suspended. An injury-free Milan team is more than capable of staking their claim for a place in the quarter-finals.
From AC Milan’s corner:
After conceding three away goals in the first leg, Leonardo finds himself in a precarious position. It is a tough task for the Rossoneri,but all is not lost either. Not many gave Milan a chance when they travelled to the Bernabéu, to take on Real Madrid in the group stages; but the Italian team defied all odds. Milan should step onto the turf, with the belief that it is just about “two goals”. With an eighty fifth minute strike at San Siro, Seedorf has given the red and blacks an outside chance to go past Manchester. Nesta and Silva will have the toughest job on the pitch; they might have to keep a check on a certain Wayne Rooney, who is in scintillating form. The injury suffered by him at the international friendly against Egypt on March 3rd can keep him out, and that can act as a blessing in disguise for Leonardo’s men. The Brazilian will have to instill self-belief in his team. Going by their authoritative display against Rome last weekend, the Old Trafford job can certainly be done, only if Milan takes their chances. Pato is back in the ranks of Milan, and if he is able to create some on-field samba with Ronaldinho, then these two Brazilians might just pull off the unthinkable. There will be many who might mock at AC Milan’s chances, by saying ‘United going down by two goals at home can only happen in dreams’, but they forget the fact that we are playing at the Theatre of Dreams!