Tonight’s Champions League encounter features arguably the most anticipated clash of this stage. It will be a battle between Italy and England, between the Seria A Champions and the English, European and World Champions, between Mourinho and Alex Ferguson, and between Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic.
Probably everyone is aware of the curse that has touched every defending European Champion in these recent years: They always fail to reach the last 8. The 2006 Champions League winners Barcelona suffered the exit in the hands of Liverpool in 2007, while 2007 winners AC Milan bowed out against Wenger’s youthful Arsenal – all at this same stage of the competition.
It looks like Mourinho’s Inter Milan – who are yet to leave up to expectations in Europe – are up to cause the same misery to United.
However, the hungry Red Devils are aiming to break down this curse and retain their title which is their priority this year.
One man who is well aware of the challenge presented by Inter Milan is Manchester United’s Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo:
“From now on, all games are important. It’s time to kill or be killed. Whoever loses will exit the competition and we don’t want to lose, we don’t want to get stuck along the way. It will be a difficult game, but I think that Manchester United have a better team, and we’ll do our best to win it,” Ronaldo told UEFA’s official website yesterday.
Less than 24 hours before this titanic clash, mind games have reached their peak.
“I think Nemanja Vidic should be suspended for both legs, not just this week’s game,” Mourinho told the Daily Telegraph.
“We will certainly try to make things uncomfortable for the United defense without him at the San Siro.
“We have almost the whole squad fit and, with the support of our fans and the experience of our players, we can make this very, very tough for United.”
But while Mourinho taunts Manchester United’s defense who will be without the likes of the suspended Vidic, Ronaldo refuses to think that Inter are better than the Reds, although he has a lot of respect for the Italians:
“They’re a good side and first in Serie A so we need to be very careful. They’re a team with very experienced players, but we also have our aces and great players. We have a more experienced team, we’re the reigning champions. It will be a good game, a well-contested game, and the better team will win.”
It could be hard to predict who the better team will be, especially when history is somewhat balanced. Despite the fact that Man United defeated Inter and went on to win the title back in 1999, the last result between these two teams went in favor of Inter who recorded a 3-2 win at Old Trafford in a friendly in 2007.
But Ronaldo would prefer not to think about the past and focus on what is going to happen tonight on the field. San Siro is not the best of venues for the Reds. A humiliating 3-0 defeat in the hands of AC Milan the last time they traveled there tells it all.
Written by: Angela Asante