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AC Milan vs Manchester United: Preview

So after a disappointing draw against Aston Villa, nearly a week has passed without seeing Manchester United in action, but a tough test is upon us. AC Milan are next up for Sir Alex Ferguson and his Red Army in the Champions League Second Round 1st Leg. With United at the San Siro first, it is sure to be a difficult tie.

Minds will surely be cast back to the last time the two sides met in 2007, United took a 3-2 lead back to Old Trafford and were very confident of finishing off the job in Manchester, only for Kaka, Gattuso, Pirlo et al to completely dismantle an inform United, utterly deflating them and producing a display akin to the great Milan side of the early 1990’s.

Other than 2007 the Rossoneri have dumped United out of Europe’s elite competition on three other occasions, – 1958, 1969 and 2005. So no matter what you have heard about Milan being a waning power and a team in decline, they will be dangerous, especially at home, there is no doubting that.

Manchester United go into the tie off the back of a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa a draw in which Ryan Giggs broke his arm ruling the midfielder out of the Milan match.

In goal, Edwin van der Sar should provide a formidable barrier to Marco Borriello, Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato. Protected by Rafael, who should be preferred to Gary Neville given the recent performances the club captain has had. It will be a massive game for the youngster, coming up against his fellow countryman and former FIFA World Player of the Year could be the making of him. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic should recreate the fearsome central defensive partnership that lead United to glory in 2008. Of course Evra will be in place at left-back.

Expect Sir Alex Ferguson to line up with a five man midfield, Antonio Valencia is likely to be in that team and is rightly looking forward to the match, stating, “They will be the biggest games I’ve played in club football.” Joining him will be Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and probably Paul Scholes. The Ginger Ninja has been in superlative form recently and the added time on the ball he will be afforded by Milan will surely mean he can do damage. Nani should also make the team, despite his red card on Wednesday his form over the last month has only been eclipsed by that of Wayne Rooney, who will be the lone frontman on Tuesday evening.

Underestimate AC Milan at your peril. There are deficiencies in the team; of that there is no doubt. But rookie manager has manages to shape some sort of team from the remnants of Carlo Ancelotti’s reign. Leonardo prefers a 4-3-3, which becomes more a 5-5.

Staring in goal will be Dida, by no stretch of the imagination back to the form of six years ago when he was one of the best stoppers in world football, he has at least achieved a reasonable level of performance so far this season, and can still pull of the odd wondersave.

The back four will be key for AC Milan, Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva are one of the most solid defensive partnerships in Europe right now. Nesta has managed to nurse himself back to a semblance of health, while Silva has proved his ability with masterful displays throughout the season. Against Udinese on Friday, Nesta made his comeback from injury only for Silva to go off injured in the same match. Much will depend on the fitness of these two.

Both full-back are the places where Milan are most vulnerable, Ignazio Abate, though young and full of running, is not a right-back, he is a best a decent right midfielder. His defensive positioning is poor and he can be a bit ‘over eager’ to say the least. Luca Antonini has made the left back position his own this season, but a journey man player, he spent 8 years away from the San Siro on various loan spells before he returned in the summer.

The Milan midfield will have a number of familiar faces, Massimo Ambrosini, the club captain and longest serving player is in a rich vein of form. He will more than likely be alongside Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso. Pirlo will be pushed further up, as if he is in the trequartista role with the two generals behind him.

The front three will consist of Borriello, Pato and Ronaldinho.

Pato is just back from injury and scored against Udinese, he may be lacking in match sharpness so David Beckham may be given a starting berth, on the right side of a front three. Ronaldinho is back on form, not quite at his Barcelona best but not far off, he still has all the skills and can easily beat his man, he may have lost that acceleration of old but he has a potent weapon in the Rossoneri attack. Both will be playing off targetman Marco Borriello, the former Genoa striker his banging in the goals, while not a star, he is effective and can give any defence a rough ride.

Milan did not win for three games after the derby defeat to Inter. If United can press the ball just as Inter did then Milan do become vulnerable, but given space and time, Milan will hurt you. Just as Real Madrid.

Prediction: 2-1 Milan

Probable Line Up: van der Sar, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Rafael; Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes, Valencia; Rooney.

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378 Comments

378 Comments

  1. Grognard

    19 February 2010 at 07:39

    @Johnsom33: Fergie has enough money to buy the club a pint of ale each at the local pub and that’s about it. So forget about Ashley Young. Oh by the way, I think he’s way overrated.

  2. Grognard

    19 February 2010 at 07:40

    @Harry Carrick: He’s crap. He’s fucking shite, I don’t even want to debate it.

  3. Man Utd Jaluo

    19 February 2010 at 10:42

    @colver: I think we look at fergies decision to play rafael from diff points, fergy himself in an interview with some America radio station he said everyone was tense during the first 15 mins him included from the atmosphere raised at the san siro. Even rio our most experienced defender looked shaky,so if we had lost, i wouldnt blame Rafael or evans alone.

    I still regret seeing rossi,shawcross and pique leaving coz they were neva played enough games and left thinking there was no future for them.

  4. Man Utd Jaluo

    19 February 2010 at 10:50

    @Harry Carrick: Thats Karma mate, rem when Henry scored versus chelsea from a free kick quickly taken, every gooner fan i know justified that goal and i almost bought into it.

    Rem last season,champions league semi with us the sending off of fletcher and the pen they were awarded,again gooners were armed to defend that decision. KArma just came back and bit off there behinds and am laughing at them with no mercy,

    Even man utd has been undone by refs but we move on, check out this page

    http://www.stretford-end.com/blog/2010/02/paul-scholes-lucky-goal-against-milan-remember-porto/

    Thats one of the tens of decisions that go against us in a season

  5. Man Utd Jaluo

    19 February 2010 at 11:10

    @Grognard: Berbatovs game is top drawer, and i agree with you,he’s with the wrong united team,because if he came here in the last century am sure we’d see a diff side of him.

    As much as we dont think Ando is up there and talented, why does he display lip licking perfomances when he plays for our reserves, like last night that was a top top perfomance from. I think he should be given a chance during the milan return leg in place of carrik who was simply poor in that game.

  6. Man Utd Jaluo

    19 February 2010 at 11:32

    @Grognard: David Silva will be perfect replacment for giggz but with our finances going south i dont think it will be possible getting him, considering what valencia will ask for plus his salary, so am thinking joe cole would be the next best thing out there that we can afford.

    I honestlt think fergy should make replacing giggz and scholes his priotiy because reality is they will not last forever like the energizer burny. We are short in mid field and thats why we keep on playing this boring 451, fergy shoul get a good attacking mid to play alongside fletcher, for quality supply to our strikers, lets face it, gibson and ando will never be that, hargo is well…is he still a united player

  7. EduardoDaVinci4

    19 February 2010 at 11:36

    I am back!!! 🙂

  8. EduardoDaVinci4

    19 February 2010 at 11:38

    @Grognard: The ref was Norwegian! 😆 The same one who refereed the Chelsea-Barca game in the controvercial Champions League semi-final last season…

    Our refs suck, that offside call was horrific! 🙄

  9. EduardoDaVinci4

    19 February 2010 at 11:41

    The Everton game will be a tough one. I really hope Wazza keeps up his goalscoring form, because a goal for him at Goodison would mean the world to him. And in the form he is in, who could possibly bet against him?! 😈

  10. EduardoDaVinci4

    19 February 2010 at 11:42

    And yeah, my avatar is a Pokemon 😆 😆 😆

  11. Man Utd Jaluo

    19 February 2010 at 11:57

    @Grognard: exactly, we dont need another stiker, what we need right now is bring creativity in our midfield. We get a quality creative attacking midfielder, with the current strike force of rooney,owen,berba and diouf we’ll still win games comfortably and in an entertaining way

  12. Man Utd Jaluo

    19 February 2010 at 12:01

    @EduardoDaVinci4: a winning goal from anyone at goodison will be great. We need to win at least 10 of the remaining 12 games to have a chance of winning the league. So i’ll take a win even if the goal comes form ando.hahahaha

  13. Stephen

    19 February 2010 at 13:02

    @Grognard: I agree Young is very overrated he looks at his left foot and falls over.

  14. colver

    19 February 2010 at 14:17

    ManUtd Jalou. I don’t think nerves were the problem with Rafael. Evans clearly had a meltdown. But with Rafael it was just inexperience. He is good at getting forward, but was not up to the task defensively of playing against Ronaldinho.

    Harry Carrick, I admire your optimism. But this is not the first time this has happened. Our midfield has a habit of getting overrun by the technically adept European sides. Yes we got back into the game. But only because Milan failed to finish us off, ran out of steam and also because we were lucky with the equaliser.

    We have a talented side, but we lack the mental strength of the teams of the 90s. Our midfield in particular has a really soft centre and our defence is plagued with injuries and players like Evans and Rafael are not quite ready for the really big games.

  15. Harry Carrick

    19 February 2010 at 14:56

    @Grognard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEfkBFX8Vew&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuWbH0H0Goo

    I know you don’t like him, but seeing some of the stuff he’s done, I don’t know how you can’t just think he’s underperforming

  16. Harry Carrick

    19 February 2010 at 15:22

    @Man Utd Jaluo: yeah but the Fletcher decision didn’t really affect Arsenal, it worked more in favour for Barcelona.

    Plus when you look at that indirect freekick, the ref has actually lodged himself between sol campbell and the ball. It’s absolutely fucking ridiculous. If THAT happened to United I would be disgusted and that’s why I hate to see decisions like that, it’s utterly unfair.

  17. Harry Carrick

    19 February 2010 at 15:54

    @colver: I think our midfield could compete with the best, we’ve been playing 4-5-1 with a heavy emphasis on midfield to create for Rooney and we have done. Someone said to me that we don’t create enough goals, but we have the best goal difference in the league atm!

    I think people hold teams like Barca in too high reverence, I know they’re very, very good, but if you don’t let a team like that play their game and out-muscle them in midfield then you can beat them. In the Champion’s league final we were just giving the ball away and that threw the game away. So don’t give the ball away needlessly and we stand a good chance. We’re also very quick on the counter attack, so if our defence is up to scratch we could absorb pressure from these teams we consider superior, then hit them with the counter.

  18. EduardoDaVinci4

    19 February 2010 at 16:23

    @Harry Carrick: Actually, Anderson IS underperfoming. He has for some time. I don’t doubt his quality and technical skill, but I question his attitude. He doesn’t seem to have the ambition to play for United, and he is too much of a wuss when it comes to not playing each week. I’m not saying he should be alright with being benched, but he should work harder in training and in games to get games, rather than talking shit to the press or demonstrating. It’s not how you do it…

  19. EduardoDaVinci4

    19 February 2010 at 16:30

    If Andy is left out of the home game against Milan as well, what do you guys think about fielding a midfield like this:

    Nani – Scholes – Fletcher – Valencia – Park

    That is if Giggs is still out, and Andy is still in the doghouse…

  20. Traverse

    19 February 2010 at 18:08

    @EduardoDaVinci4: I reckon Anderson will come back into contention. He’s said all the right things to the press, sucked up being dropped to the reserves, played last night and ran the show infront of Fegrie. He was subbed off on 60 mins, as was Diouf. I’d expect both of them to be in the squad. Obertan was a class above again.

    Scholes rarely plays 2 in a row. Giggs and Nani are out. Whether that means we go 4-4-2 and start Valencia Carrick Fletcher Obertan/Park or stay 4-5-1 and bring in Anderson I don’t know.

  21. Johnsom33

    19 February 2010 at 19:39

    @Stephen: @Grognard: I respectfully disagree, Young is a wonderful talent. He has bags of pace, good not great technical skill but more importantly he is afraid to take on defenders. The only reason he struggles at times now is because at villa he isn’t given any chance to rest. There is no doubt in my mind that if he were playing for us and surrounded by better players he would be even better.

  22. Stephen

    19 February 2010 at 20:37

    @Johnsom33: Personally I think he is very overrated matey, he would also be crazy money as buying an English player from a decent English club the figure would be astronomic.
    He isn’t remotely near a regular for England with Capello prefering Milner over him, he plays on the left but has no left foot for me we money could be better spent, Joe Cole for free being one.

  23. EduardoDaVinci4

    19 February 2010 at 23:09

    Norway conquer Canada!!! 😈

  24. Harry Carrick

    20 February 2010 at 03:04

    @EduardoDaVinci4:That’s what I mean, Grognard thinks Anderson is a no hoper and I’m saying he’s capable of good stuff but he’s underperforming currently

  25. Grognard

    23 February 2010 at 09:31

    @Harry Carrick: You’re wasting your time with that shite. He is total and complete rubbish and i for one will sing out loud and have a party the day Fergie sells him for a bag of balls. And the team that gives up the bag of balls should feel really ripped off.

  26. Grognard

    23 February 2010 at 09:32

    @Johnsom33: He’s English, which means he’s overrated and overpriced.

  27. Grognard

    23 February 2010 at 09:43

    @Harry Carrick: Currently? 😯 More like ever since he got here 3 seasons ago. He is hopeless and useless. Did you honestly think a useless Youtube promotional video would change my mind on somebody I have had to endure in so many matches for so many years? He is one of the least talented but overhyped and over talked about footballers to ever wear our kit. Enough of him already. Like Nani, he gets far too much attention on this blog when players like Rooney, Fletcher and Evra deserve to be talked about more and praised for playing up to their potential, not well below it. Lately it has become fashionable for us to make mountains out of mole hills as we talk up useless gits and talk down our true stars. Enough already.

    And before somebody gets their undies in knot over my Nani statement, I am not putting him down or comparing his skill or ability with the useless Anderson. I am just pointing out that we talk about him way more than he deserves to be talked about. And if many of you anti Grognard types have been wondering what it will take to shut me up and have me show up less on this blog, just talk about Anderson and Nani all the time and i will be a distant memory. Christ how I am sick of reading those two names on this blog over and over and over. It’s like the pathetic guy who won’t stop talking about the girlfriend that left him ten years ago. 🙄

  28. john

    8 March 2010 at 08:17

    they actually beat them 3-2 at home and lost 3-0 away to milan

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