Champions League quarter-final second leg (First leg: 1-2)
Manchester United will be looking to make a little bit of club history when they take on Roma in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg.
United have never before overcome a first-leg deficit in the Champions League but undeterred by the weight of recent history, manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his side have a “massive chance” of overturning the 2-1 defeat from the first leg.
“I think it is a good position,” said Sir Alex. “We acquitted ourselves very well in the circumstances in Rome. We’re pleased that with ten men we scored a goal and when we did score, Roma became very nervous for a period. Tomorrow our attacking impetus will be much stronger.”
Ferguson was speaking in the wake of his team’s first back-to-back losses of the campaign – Saturday’s 2-1 league defeat at Portsmouth following the loss in Rome.
United’s cause is not helped by a lengthy absentee list which now includes the suspended Paul Scholes and Louis Saha who is sufferi8ng from a strained hamstring.
“I think the history of the club has always been that way,” added Ferguson. “We do recover and we will recover well. Everyone loses at some point, it is what you do about it that makes a team, and I am confident about that.”
“Can you compare Roma with the great Juventus teams that came here, or Milan of two years ago, or Real Madrid? They have all been here and it certainly won’t be any more tense than those games.”
“Their away form has been good and they have had a goal threat, so I don’t anticipate they’ll go completely defensive.”
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti admitted he did not intend to sit on his side’s slender advantage.
“We showed in the first game that we are a very good team, sound in defence, and we have to do the same again tomorrow,” said Spalletti. “It would be risky to try a different approach against such a good attacking side as United. We will play as we know how to play.”
Spalletti welcomes back midfielder David Pizarro from a ban, yet his return is offset by the loss through suspension Simone Perrotta. The coach’s main concern, though, is the fitness of leading scorer Francesco Totti, who missed Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Calcio Catania with a sciatica problem, although he is expected to start tonight.
“United have an advantage over us in that they are used to playing at this level,” Spalletti admitted.
Edwin van der Sar; John O’Shea, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Gabriel Heinze; Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs; Wayne Rooney, Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Doni; Marco Cassetti, Cristian Chivu, Philippe Mexes, Christian Panucci; Daniele De Rossi, David Pizarro; Christian Wilhelmsson, Taddei, Mancini; Francesco Totti.