One English team has already knocked an Italian team out of the Champions League and tonight Manchester United and Arsenal will try and replicate what Chelsea did last night. The Italian papers have had a lot of coverage on these matches this week, and I thought that the gazettta.it had the best break-down and analysis of the two games. This is how they see things shaping up tonight.
MANCHESTER UTD-INTER (first leg: 0-0)
INTER Pros– Motivation, tradition, soundness. It’s a different situation from that of 2008, when Kuyt and Gerrard sentenced the Nerazzurri to an impossible feat. The second leg will be played in the “Lion’s Den”, the least comfortable place in Europe for teams playing on the road, but since the first match ended 0-0, there is still hope to bring home the pass to the next round. The win against Genoa has silenced the fear of a loss of form and of tensions. It’s true that they will need what Stankovic has defined as “the match that can make history for Inter”. Mourinho has a solid squad and doesn’t begin the match defeated by his old opponent, a team that has “swept” the Portuguese only once in 13 matches. Cons– The statistics show, except for the match against Genoa, that the defensive line has let in 7 goals in 3 matches. The medical team adds that there are only three available midfielders, Rivas, Cordoba and Samuel (at 50%). In order to stop Ronaldo’s escapades and Rooney’s displays of sheer power, it will be necessary for Cambiasso to have a picture-perfect match and for Cordoba not to make a single mistake. Considering Ibrahimovic’s state of grace, the back court is the only point of concern for the Nerazzurri. Key man – Ibrahimovic, of course. If Inter are to advance to the next round, it’s almost for sure that we will be talking about a solid performance by the Swede. They all lie in wait; Old Trafford guarantees them a window to the world where to show the smile from better days.
MANCHESTER UTD Pros– The Red Devils are a war machine at home: they have scored 30 goals this year in the Premiership and let in only 5, with one draw and 12 wins in 13 matches. Rooney has scored his sixth goal in 7 matches; Berbatov and Tévez would make any high-level team happy and they are there, alternating between pitch and bench, to fight their team-mates for a place on the pitch. Oh, and there is also Cristiano Ronaldo… What is less commonly known is the reliability of Carrick and Fletcher, already highlighted at Meazza when Inter were virtually hitting their heads on a brick wall. But the iron curtain is human, which means it may give in. In any case, it will be an utterly hard task to accomplish. Cons – Ferdinand has some ankle issues and O’Shea has some muscle problems. Ferguson will have Vidic again after the disqualification during the team world championships, although a small crack could be pried open in any case, just like it happened to Cambiasso during the first match with a stopped ball. Key man – Ronaldo wins by a head, if for nothing else, for the amount of chances authored by the number 7 and stopped by Julio Cesar during the first match. Santon did a great job in the first match. Despite his age, he reminds Mourinho of the great ones from Inter’s past and he will have to put on another great performance. THE KEY – The first 15-20 minutes. Manchester United will start the match by imposing a crazy pace, just like Liverpool last year, banking on the “home turf fear” caused by playing at Old Trafford. If Inter conquer this critical hill, they will have time to organise their resources and design a good attack. Ferguson is not very likely to allow Mourinho to lead this dance; therefore, it will be “assault on Julio Cesar” vs. “covered and ready for counterattack.” It has worked many times before and Inter have the chance to play this game again.
From the sounds of it Gazzetta expects Inter Milan to get the result they need to knock the defending champions out. This is really hard one to proedict as I do think that Inter will score at Old Trafford. Can United get two goals? Do you agree with Gazzetta and think Inter will win?
ROMA-ARSENAL(first leg: 0-1)
ROMA Pros – Vucinic has shown against Udinese that he is fully recovered; Totti and Juan will give their best efforts to increase the quality of the attack and the defence. There are very few happy things going on for Roma these days, even if today’s squad is very different from the opaque and lost team they were at the beginning of the season. Perhaps the most encouraging point is having limited the damage during the first match; things can be different at the Olimpico. Cons – Arsenal’s 1-0 in London is a result that can be tipped up, albeit difficult. The worst issue is the number of injuries: there are high-level players who will try to go out on the pitch in less-than-perfect conditions (Totti, Juan, Aquilani, Pizarro) but there are also some certain absences (Cassetti, Cicinho, Perrotta). De Rossi’s disqualification will weigh very heavily on them. Key man – Vucinic. The Montenegrin has left his physical problems behind and has the skills to create trouble for the Gunners’ defence. In a three-man point formation, supporting Totti or as the main striker, his contribution can be critical.
ARSENAL Pros – The Gunners are making a display of brilliant football; they are all speed, skills and precise moves, as made obvious in the first match where they bullied Roma. The quality of Wenger’s lads is incredibly high and Walcott’s and Eduardo’s recovery add more options to an attack line that doesn’t always materialise the thousand and one chances they create. Besides, Arsenal are a seasoned team in international competitions; they won’t be frazzled by the Giallorossi fans in the stands. Cons – The only true problem up until now has been the chronic difficulty “putting it in”. Arsenal have talent to spare and are playing beautifully but have also missed many chances in many matches. The absence of a “goal-man” like Adebayor is not going unnoticed. The Londoners could have and should have sealed the deal in the first match, given the fact that they dominated the game. Instead, they didn’t do it and now are at risk of paying dearly for it.Key man – Nasri. The Frenchman’s situation two weeks ago proved to be an unsolvable enigma for Roma. Together with Van Persie, with whom he has a very good understanding, he is the player who opens the opponent’s defence and knows how to create numeric superiority in the jump. THE KEY – Arsenal will play slightly more cautiously than in the first match, not giving up in attack because that’s not their style, but they will be a tad less aggressive. The main question remains to see how Roma’s midfielders will fare out, without De Rossi, without being overtaken by their counterparts, who were already superior at Emirates Stadium.
Sounds like Gazzetta is expecting Arsenal to knock Roma out tonight, but that depends on what Arsenal team shows up. If Arsenal take their chances then they will win this game comfortably.