It’s only in the Champions League that such big matches come up. Tomorrow at 19:45 local time, Manchester United and Internazionale, the two big names of the English and Italian leagues respectively, clash at Old Trafford, the home ground of the former. What makes this even more mouth-watering is that the first fixture of this round-of-16 tie at Inter’s home, the San Siro in Milan, ended in a 0-0 draw.
Old Trafford, nicknamed the Theatre of Dreams is one of the largest stadia in Europe with a capacity of around 70,000, and is one of the most intimidating venues for away teams. It will be tough for Inter, a primarily defensive side, to get the ball rolling like they want it to.
Jose Mourinho, the Inter manager, will know that he has an uphill task. But it will be familiar territory for him, having been the manager at Chelsea before this, and having come to Old Trafford numerous times. Not so for his players, though.
Alex Ferguson, the United manager, will be quietly confident. Though he always downplays his team’s chances, he’ll know that Inter are the team under pressure. And of course, he’ll be in his element on home soil, and so will his lads.
Inter are the team who’ll have to take the game to the Red Devils. Their striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the mainstay of their attack, though he’ll find it difficult going around Nemanja Vidic, the in-form United centreback. And even if he does, the man to beat will be Edwin van der Sar in goal, who’s been more of an enigma this season. However, that doesn’t mean United can sit back and enjoy. Oh no they can’t. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Dimitaar Berbatov will have to find inroads through the Nerazzuri defence, which they couldn’t at the San Siro.
The team that wins this match advances. A 0-0 draw will mean extra time and if still goalless, a penalty shootout. However, if the scoreline is tied at anything but 0-0, Inter will qualify on the away goals rule.
May the best team win. And I’m hoping it’s United.
(Image source: Wikipedia)
Update: The result and the resulting post here.