United have plenty of reasons to be confident ahead of Milan trip
“In fairness, we never looked like we were going to score.”– Sir Alex Ferguson after the 3-0 defeat two years ago.
When Manchester United last faced AC Milan at the San Siro back in 2007, they failed to turn up. 3-0 was the final result of that semi-final second leg tie, but it well and truly could have been a cricket score. On that wet and miserable night in Milan, we witnessed a United side lacking confidence. You feel, however, this time around United are far better prepared.
AC Milan are not the same team as they were three years ago. No longer are they the force in Serie A, or viewed as favorites in the Champions League, Milan have had an unhappy last few years. They won’t win the league title this year, they sit in 3rd place, eight points behind leader Internazionale. Nor will they win the Champions League. I’m confident United will be too strong for them – over both legs – and prevail.
Despite Manchester United’s terrible record against Milan in Europe, you feel now the balance has really shifted. It’s time to put things right. And the Red Devils are the better side going into this game although playing at the San Siro will not be easy. When Man Utd faced Milan three years back, it was the majestic and inspirational Kaka who led from the front but since his big money move to Madrid in the summer, the Italian outfit have found it difficult to replace him.
Why else should United be confident? They have Wayne Rooney, of course. His role has changed since the start of the season, becoming more of a goalscorer and most importantly United have found a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo without forking out the £70m on a overrated winger such as Frank Ribery. Plus, Man Utd look like they’re back to their best, their recent results suggesting this.
However, I should single out some players to watch out for, but I’d think you’d want to hear an expert’s view instead, am I right? When I interviewed journalist Gabriele Marcotti last month, I asked him to single out the players to look out for. This is what he said:
“Well, there are plenty of familiar faces in the Milan side: Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Rino Gattuso and that chap David Beckham too…I’ll point out some guys who have been playing well and may not be as familiar. Pato has not had the best season up front, but he is an outstanding striker. He’s still just twenty years old, but he’s fast, tricky and is actually very good in the air. He’ll be superstar, no doubt about it, but, as I said, he’s not having a great year.”
“Borriello is a busy, workhorse striker who can be a handful as a centerforward. Not much in terms of ability, but he holds the ball up well and does a lot of the grunt work for the old guys around him. In defence, Thiago Silva is an outstanding central defender and he forms a very good partnership with Alessandro Nesta, who’s back after missing nearly all of last year through injury.”
I still think United should be confident. It won’t be easy, of course it won’t, playing in the fortress that is the San Siro but the balance of power has shifted somewhat in the last few years and it will be Milan who will be wary of last year’s finalists Man United.