Tuesday, May 01, 2007

AC Milan fans can be important in the semifinal against Manchester United

Italian hope. AC Milan players are convinced that the San Siro crowd can roar them to the Champions League final as they look to overturn a 3-2 defeat against Manchester United here tonight.

Indeed, ManU edged the first leg of a pulsating semi-final at Old Trafford, but Milan's two away goals, both scored by Brazilian talent Kaka, means a 1-0 win will be enough for the Italian team to reach the Athens final on May 23.

Milan's talented player midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, who has been passed fit to play after recovering from the foot injury he suffered in the first leg, is counting on the home support to be their 12th player.

"It's fantastic to know that our fans are always there for us and they always cheer us on," said the 29-year-old Italian World Cup winner.

"This time it's special though, as they have to give us an incredible hand. We will give our all, but they have to take us even further."

Also Dutch player Clarence Seedorf, Gattuso's midfield partner, believes the Milan crowd will not let them down: "The supporters are even more passionate than we are".

However, Milan captain Paolo Maldini is battling to be fit after aggravating the knee injury at Old Trafford which forced him to come off at half time.

The Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti has hinted he will drop striker Alberto Gilardino, anonymous in the first leg, in favour of veteran striker Filippo Inzaghi.

"in fact, Gilardino has only scored one goal in the Champions League and that highlights the difference between that competition and the league," Ancelotti admitted.

"I think there's more pressure on strikers to score in the Champions League, and Gilardino is not experienced enough yet to cope with that."

It's very important to notice that Manchester United come into the match on a real high after moving five points clear of Chelsea at the top of the Premiership on Saturday with just three games to go, and having reached the English FA Cup final.

"Indeed, we are in a magnificent situation and we go to the San Siro with our morale sky high," said the popular Alex Ferguson after his side fought back from 2-0 down at Everton to win 4-2 on Saturday.

"We have to think of the team, and Paul Scholes has to make sure he doesn't get booked, that's without question," Ferguson explained. "The advice we gave him in the first leg was not to slide in and make tackles because that's where he gets all his bookings.

"In Europe, they just don't accept it, sliding in. So if he stays on his feet and tackles properly there will be no problem."

Furthermore, Alex Ferguson accepts his injury-ridden defence will struggle to deny Milan in their own stadium, but he has backed his own team to score at least once.

"I really don't agree with the view that it is vital we don't go over there and concede," he said. "I wouldn't say we are favourites, but I think we have given ourselves a great chance. A goal lead is a very good start in European football, and I think there will be good counter-attack possibilities in our squad".

We must remember that AC Milan are aiming to reach their 10th Champions League final and the Red Devils their third.

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