In contrast to last season’s quarter-final meeting between these sides tonight’s encounter between Roma and Manchester promises to be a sedate affair.
Both teams have already qualified for the knockout stages and both will field weakened line-ups with United expected to give the inexpereinced Danny Simpson, Jonny Evans, Gerard Piqué and Chris Eagles further experience in Europe.
Nonetheless, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti expects his side to treat the game seriously.
“If we aren’t up for a match like this, against one of the best sides in the world when under no pressure, then we are not a top-quality team,” he said. “It’s the best situation a player can ask for – there is nothing to fear because there is nothing to lose.”
Spalletti will have to do without suspended defender Marco Cassetti and the injured Simone Perrotta (groin), while Matteo Ferrari, Antunes and Mauro Esposito are expected to deputise.
United, who, like Roma, are second in their domestic league, have left Ryan Giggs, Ronaldo and Wes Brown at home ahead of the weekend trip to Anfield.
“Luciano is right,” said Sir Alex. “Manchester United will be 100 per cent committed. That’s always our demand whether we’re playing our young players or old ones.”
United manager has made Wayne Rooney captain for the first time.
“He’s been pestering me for weeks but I’ve no qualms because he has similar qualities to Steve Bruce, Bryan Robson and Roy Keane in terms of his determination and spirit,” said the Scot. “He’s developing all the time.”