Monday, February 23, 2009
watch Internazionale v Manchester United live streaming
Sir Alex Ferguson reckons Manchester United's hopes of seeing off Inter Milan in the Champions League rest on their result in the San Siro.While Jose Mourinho confidently predicts the clash between the runaway league leaders in Italy and England will go to extra-time at Old Trafford in a fortnight, Ferguson is looking at a far more rapid conclusion.
And that means an injury-hit United side grabbing a priceless away goal.
"I don't think it will go to extra-time - it will be decided on Tuesday," said Ferguson.
"If we score we will have a great chance."
Not that Ferguson is dismissing Inter. Mourinho has only lost one of 12 head-to-head duels with the Scot, so that would be a foolhardy move.
And while the United chief has previously concluded Barcelona are the major obstacle to continued English domination of the competition, he recognises the contest facing his team would not have looked out of place in Rome on May 27.
"At this moment in time you cannot split the teams," he said.
"Inter have won Serie A three times in a row and are going to win it for a fourth time. They have experience; they have a really outstanding manager and some terrific footballers.
"It is a really big game. It would have been a great final."
Among the visitors to see United go through their paces at the San Siro on Monday night was David Beckham, currently on loan at AC Milan from Los Angeles Galaxy.
Beckham spent a happy hour with the Red Devils when he was reunited with Ferguson, patching up the differences that saw him leave Old Trafford for Real Madrid six years ago.
The former England captain then headed to United's team hotel, where he met former team-mates Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
Also at training was Nemanja Vidic.
Vidic's presence was a reminder of how damaging his dismissal at the Club World Cup in Japan could turn out to be.
Vidic is banned for one game, his normal stand-in Jonny Evans was also a bystander having aggravated an ankle injury during Saturday's win over Blackburn, while Rafael da Silva did not even make the journey after suffering a similar knock against Sam Allardyce's men.
In addition, Wes Brown and Gary Neville are longer-term absentees, leaving Ferguson desperately hoping John O'Shea shrugs off the heel injury that kept him out at the weekend or Evans makes a miraculous recovery knowing unless they both make it, either Fabio Da Silva or Darren Fletcher will be required to fill the right-back berth.
"My options? I panic!" said Ferguson, only half-jokingly when asked what he would do if both his Irishmen were ruled out.
"I suppose I could play Dimitar Berbatov as a sweeper."
Ferguson's problem is compounded by his opinion that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Inter's best player, if not quite the world's best as Mourinho boldly claimed a couple of months ago.
The Swede has often failed to do himself justice on the biggest stage. But this season has been Ibrahimovic's best so far, which was threatening to cause the Red Devils a problem even before their defence was ripped apart.
"Without question, Ibrahimovic is their star player," said Ferguson.
"I have watched him for many years now. He has developed and is at an age now where you expect a bit of maturity. He is getting all the praise he deserves."
The mutual respect that exists between Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo would not stop the Inter boss using a weakness in his fellow countryman's armoury just now to get an advantage for his team.
Yet Ferguson is unconcerned about any attempt to wind Ronaldo up, feeling he must trust the 23-year-old, who has shown flashes of temper and frustration far too often