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Man Utd provide acid test for Leonardo

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Tim Vickery | 08:21 UK time, Monday, 15 February 2010

As a general rule, I prefer to make my predictions after the event - I find it does wonders for their accuracy. But if you're going to put yourself on the line and make a forecast, there's one situation where getting it wrong is a pleasure - when someone turns out to be better than you expected.

For me, Leonardo's performance as Milan coach is in that category. He might be under pressure and it could be that losing to Manchester United in the Champions League might cost him his job, but the Brazilian has made a better, and certainly a bolder, fist of it than I imagined.

Leonardo was never a great player. He was a good one, but was probably more impressive as a man than as a footballer. In the dressing room, he was seen as the wise head who could find the right thing to say.

He came from a relatively wealthy background, but whereas some in Brazil use privilege as a safety net, for him it served as a springboard to self-improvement. Always concerned with those less fortunate then himself, he set up the Gol de Letra institution to aid the educational formation of poor kids in Rio and Sao Paulo, in collaboration with former team-mate Rai.

But could he call the shots at a big club like Milan? I had my doubts.

AC Milan head coach Leonardo Leonardo was promoted to head coach by AC Milan when Carlo Ancelotti left last June

I recall an upmarket radio show in Brazil a few years ago with Leonardo as the guest, talking for an hour about the challenges facing Brazilian football. I was sure this would be fascinating as, with all his European experience, Leonardo would have plenty of pertinent things to say.

I sat by the radio with pen and paper, but by the end of the hour I hadn't written anything. He'd talked without content - "we need new paradigms" was the phrase of the night, repeated several times with no concrete elaboration of what had to change.

The problem, I felt, was that although he had proposals to make, he seemed afraid to do so, perhaps scared of upsetting the power structure. So when nice, well-brought-up Leonardo took over at Milan, I didn't think he would be tough enough to take the hard decisions.

He did have one thing going for him. After Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked by Chelsea, I commented that the breakthrough by Brazilian coaches in Europe would probably be made by those with some history of playing in the continent.

They would have benefited from time away from the paternalistic relationship between coach and players in their native land, and the cosmopolitan dressing room of a European squad would not come as a shock. They would be cured of the unfortunate habit of dividing the world into Brazilians and 'gringos'.

Leonardo certainly fits into this category. He is a thoroughly international figure. One of his players, Alexandre Pato, recently praised the ability of his coach to communicate with his squad in so many different languages.

But communication is only ever as good as its content, and the pleasant surprise was that Leonardo did not intend to play safe - as perhaps might have been understandable with a squad that had just lost its star player, Kaka, whisked away to Real Madrid.

Ronaldinho anmd LeonardoLeonardo needs Ronaldinho (left) to be at his brilliant best aginst Manchester United

Instead, he bravely opted for a 4-3-3 formation, clearly influenced by Barcelona and obviously intended to get as much as possible out of Ronaldinho, who was so effective in the wide left role in his mid-decade heyday with the Catalan club.

This was a daring step in Italian football, especially early season, when Ronaldinho was still waddling around like a former player who has turned up for a charity match. But after a dodgy start, the team started to put some wins together.

It is perhaps no surprise that a recent indifferent spell has coincided with the absence through injury of Pato, whose pace from the right flank makes him such a good target for Ronaldinho's diagonal passes.

Leonardo will be relieved that Pato is available once more. And if the stakes are high for the coach against Manchester United, they are probably higher still for Ronaldinho, who was left out of Brazil's squad for the forthcoming friendly against the Republic of Ireland.

It does not necessarily mean that Ronaldinho will not be going to the World Cup - it is undeniable that he has responded better to the stick than the carrot.

Being carried in the national squad for almost three years did not seem to do him much good, but, since he was left out, his form and fitness have improved. Maybe coach Dunga has come to the conclusion that keeping him out of the squad is the best way to maintain his motivation.

A recall would create problems as Brazil have played better, and found their identity, in Ronaldinho's absence. They don't use the 4-3-3 system which seems to suit him so well, and bringing him back would mean no place for one of Dunga's trusty foot soldiers.

Ronaldinho has never really clicked alongside Kaka, the undisputed king of the Brazilian attack, but, even so, most World Cup coaches would be drooling at the prospect of taking him to the World Cup in South Africa - even as a one-man Plan B, to be unleashed from the bench in times of trouble.

Making a decisive contribution in the big games, such as the two legs against United, would make calls for his return impossible to ignore.

If Ronaldinho can repay the faith Leonardo has shown in him, he can take a giant step towards regaining the faith of Dunga.

Comments on the piece in the space provided - questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) As you have pointed out in the past, the left full-back position is the biggest question mark in Dunga's Brazil team. He seems to have tried countless players there and not one has made the position his own. I was wondering where Marcelo of Real Madrid fits in. He only has six caps and appeared to be the natural successor to Roberto Carlos. He looks like he's getting a decent run of games and form at Real at left-back, after playing for a period of time further forward. With the tradition of Brazilian full backs pushing forward, I think Marcelo and Maicon would be a frightening prospect to play against.
David McCormack

A) He was briefly in the squad, but he clearly didn't leave a good impression. The line last year was that he was out because he was featuring for Real Madrid on the left of midfield, not at full-back. But there must be something else - look at the two called up for the Ireland game - Michel Bastos hasn't played left-back for years, and Gilberto, who didn't come off at Tottenham, has been playing in midfield since returning to Brazil to join Cruzeiro. If either one of the does well against Ireland, you would have to think they're halfway to a World Cup place. If not, then it's open again, and perhaps Marcelo will have a chance to launch a late bid.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    So come on then Tim lets have a prediction for the outcome of this tie. I'm going for a 1-1 draw at San Siro and Utd to win 2-0 at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 2.

    Leonardo is an intelligent guy, but the jury is still out on him as a coach.

    You mention Ronaldinho, but for me the key player in this Champions League tie between Man Utd and Milan is Alexandre Pato. His career is on the up, he's an emerging superstar and I see his skills as the factor that could swing the tie in Milan's favour.

    A problem Milan have is that so many of their key players- Nesta, Gattuso, Seedorf, Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Beckham - are ageing. They have superior technique to the likes of Park, Valencia, Carrick, Evans, Rooney and Fletcher but have they got the legs? Milan need a good result in the first leg. If the Manchester United crowd show a bit of passion for once (and Beckham's return should ensure a lively Old Trafford) then Milan will be up against it in the 2nd leg.

  • Comment number 3.

    Leonardo - the Mike Brearley of Brazilian football?

    Milan have experience in spades and Inzaghi always seems the man for the big occasion. I predict a close contest over the two legs, the teams separated by a single goal.

  • Comment number 4.

    Tim,
    Quite the short feature this time around.
    Like your blogs a lot.
    As for the Game, despite Milan being a team that seems to be putting it together and falling apart with consistency off late, i really dont see them pushing Man Utd.
    For all the Ronaldinho's, Pato's or other old fella's they might have
    what they dont have is Wayne Rooney, who in my view will clearly be the difference between the two teams.
    Altho i'd love to see Ronnie rise to the occasion and prove me wrong
    :)

  • Comment number 5.

    Great article as always Tim but i was wondering if you feel too much attention is being given to the fact that Beckham is facing his boyhood club since his departure in 2003?
    He's not the first and certainly won't be the last player it's happened to so I was just wondering whether you think the media attention the game has received is justified?
    I'd rather the attention was on the 2 strikers who make a difference in either team, Rooney has been sensational for Man United this season however Pato scored 2 exquisite goals in Madrid in the Real-AC game earlier this season.

  • Comment number 6.

    Agree with the sentiments of Pulpgrape regarding the score draw at the Meazza and a home win at OT.
    Milan like most Italian sides base the fulcrum of their attacking play on the deep lying regista (Pirlo in this case), however as seen at the Emirates when Arsenal's 3 man midfield took a bit of pummelling by the athleticism of United the same scenario looks highly likely.
    The likes of Fletcher, Park and Carrick may prove too much for the languid tempo of Pirlo and company.

    Not overly bothered who wins the tie, so I'll wheel out the old adage of hoping 'football is the winner'....

    ;)

  • Comment number 7.

    Great blog Tim.

    Subeterranean - Are you serious? No Milan player has better technique than Rooney - get your head out of the clouds son!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Was surprised myself that Milan went with Leonardo after Ancelotti.. did they maybe make the decision due to the fact they knew he would be using mostly the same players and therefore it would be better promoting rather than bringing in a brand new face..??

    I hope Dunga takes Ronaldinho to the World Cup.. I find it hypocritical that he can bump Ronaldinho over form and lifestyle choices but continue to include Robinho..

    Milan to win over 2 legs.. close tie though.. all depends on who is fit for Milan at the back.. they have been threadbare there for a while.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the difference between the inited teams of the early millenium , in europe is fergie now knows to be alot more defensive in the away legfs and don't let the other team play. he was slightly naive in the past with his selection to outscore the opponent, the team for tomorrow will be somethin like this
    --------------VDS-----------------

    --Brown---Ferdinand--Evans---Evra

    --Nani--Carrick--Fletch--Scholes--Park

    -----------------Rooney------------------

    which has now become accustomed to united away from home in europe. its not all about entertaining in the away leg, its about nicking a goal or 2 and being solid in defence

  • Comment number 11.

    "They would be cured of the unfortunate habit of dividing the world into Brazilians and 'gringos'."

    Is the division between 'natives' and 'foreigners' a habit of Brazilians only? I think not.

    As for the Ronaldinho question, his inclusion in a World Cup squad splits the country 50-50, as you know. Tostao has a put the finger on it though: "Not to gamble is also a gamble" (c.f. http://opovo.uol.com.br/opovo/colunas/tostao/953947.html).

  • Comment number 12.

    I think the Jury's still out on Leonardo. i watched the Milan derby a few weeks back and despite Inter (ludicrously) being down to 10 men, Milan looked absolutely bereft of any ideas or invention. They had on Borriello up front on his own and could offer no support to him whatsoever.

    When you're 1-0 down and playing 10 men, surely you should be able to get more players in the box and offer some sort of goal threat?

  • Comment number 13.

    Man Utd are yet to beat Milan in Champions Cup/League. 4 meetings and 4 aggregate wins for Milan. If Utd are to beat this hoodoo, they'll never have a better chance than now. But it's always dangerous to write off Milan in this competition, they seem to excel in it regardless of league form whereas neighbours Inter tend to be very ordinary even when dominating Serie A and with the "Special One" in charge.
    So logic and form says United, but history and the heart says Milan, with a vintage Ronaldinho masterclass thrown in - but that may be asking too much.

  • Comment number 14.

    7. At 10:50am on 15 Feb 2010, Paul Lees wrote:
    Great blog Tim.

    Subeterranean - Are you serious? No Milan player has better technique than Rooney - get your head out of the clouds son!!!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I was talking in general about the core of Milan's team being better technically than the core of Man Utd's team, but Man Utd being younger and having more energy.

    I would say that Ronaldinho, Pato and Pirlo can match Rooney technically though.

  • Comment number 15.

    In response to the question after the article, surely if Maxwell has a competent season replacing Abidal at Barca he would be a better bet than somebody as unpredictable as Marcelo?
    Also I remember a while back there was a lot of fuss about a Guilherme (a leftback not the centre forward) I was just wondering if anyone had heard any more about him?
    I think Man Utd are clear favourites for this match, they have possibly the best player in the world (I've always thought he is better than Ronaldo but just not sure between him and Messi) firing on all cylinders, if the supply is good then Milan are in for a tough time, I can see it being another get and go counter attack set up like the Arsenal game. Would like to see a good contest though, really hope Milan turn up.

  • Comment number 16.

    I believe that Utd will win this one in Milan. If you go back to the Inter game last season Utd had gone on the attack and were only denied a handsome win by the brilliance of Julio Cesar. With Dida in goal I feel that Utd will have it easier this time around. The only problem I forsee for Utd is the matchup between Ronaldihno and young Rafael, if Dihno can take him to the cleaners then we'll have ourselves a very close tie.
    Utd to win it by 2 goals at the San Siro. Pace will account for Milan.
    Anybody have a bolder prediction?

  • Comment number 17.

    Re: 2. "A problem Milan have is that so many of their key players- Nesta, Gattuso, Seedorf, Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Beckham - are ageing"

    This is simply Milan's philosophy. For the last twenty years at least we've been told they have "an ageing side" since the club seems to place a higher value on experience than potential.

    And with a record in Europe second only to Real Madrid, who can argue with them?

  • Comment number 18.

    Not really expecting victory tomorrow mainly because our home form in the Champions League this season is atrocious.3 games 2 draws and a loss scoring a mighty 2 goals with only one from open play!Our away form fills me with more confidence after winning at the Velodrome and the Bernabeu.Its going to be close methinks over two legs but maybe one of our Brazilians can pull this one outta the fire and no I'm not talking about Nelson Dida!

  • Comment number 19.

    Yeah, I am actually glad Leonardo is doing well. I remember him being the spokesman of the Brazilian teams in the WCs he was in. I personally thought it was because he was the only one with a good command of English, but I could be wrong. They started out as young coaches with Ferrara in Juve and now Ferrara is no more.
    On the game itself, I wholly expect United to play a fast game to maximise the age game and neutralize the mountains of experience and guile possessed by the old masters at Milan. 1-2 United. Nani to give OG an assist again.

  • Comment number 20.

    I've always liked Leanardo rather than admired him as such. A good player in his day but nothing outstanding, similar in value to a team as players like JS.Park at United or Guti at Madrid, useful but not indispensible.

    As a person I can only judge him on his punditry experience, expecially with the BBC at major tournaments where he seems affable, intelligent and knowledgable about different styles of play and player (I personally thought at the last World Cup, Lineker, Hanson and Leonardo were one of the best presenting trio's I'd seen on any channel for a while.)

    However as a manger I do wonder if Milan opted for him as he was someone who would be happy to be Berlusconi's man as it were. Tactically sound, multi-lingual, fresh and youthful but ultimately as a Milan man through and through someone willing to tow the line. I don't want this is any way to be a derogatory suggestion, not to imply that he's just a yes man, but rather that he's someone who sees his relationship as a true employee of the club rather than a maverick who has things his way and his way alone.

    Milan is a very large club, with a rich tradition of success and a major corporate prescence and a very multi-national team. Leanoardo is perhaps the Ying to someone like Mourinho's yang.

  • Comment number 21.

    Re: 17 No-one can argue with Milan's pedigree in Europe, but if you look at their teams in the past it was not only about experience. Remember that the likes of Pirlo, Gattuso, Kaka, Seedorf, Inzaghi, Shevchenko, Rivaldo, Rui Costa, etc were young at the time. Their midfield and attack were avereging about 26-27yrs. Now their starting midfield has average age of about 29-30yrs and their defence is old (as usual) but the major difference now is that their strike force isn't all that experienced in champions league football.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a United fan, i've always feared Ronaldinho, even when he was unfit you just knew there's something there with him and I really hope our players know what they're coming up against. It's wonderful to see him trying to get back to his best, we've not been knocked out of the knockout stages for over 2 years now, I just hope with Nani and Valencia on the wing, the pace will be too much, without underestimating their attack we should be able to scrape a win.

    Fantastic blog Tim.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hopefully we can talk at the end of the game about the players that made the difference. If Ronaldinio can look anything like the monster of a guy he was back in 05 we will have a very good thing. Think Roonex should be a good man too, look for a goal son we hopes. I think if someone can lay up a volley for him I would be happy. As he might score. Milan are good enough to manage themsevle to a top 4 finish and quarters of Europe, they have the players. Maybe they lack a box player like they had inzagho and Schvchenki at one point and they were as goalscorers. Boriello looks not good enough and pato and Ronaldoniho offer something different. Maybe they should look at Pazzini, or even the short term Toni that Roma have would have been a good option, especially when the European sides fail to Mix it physically with our lads. Toni is a good air player and would have butted balls into the net all day

  • Comment number 24.

    Well we've all seen Milan in the pas they've beaten Man utd and why not again. I predict that Milan will win 3-0 at the San Siro and will win 1-0 at Old Trafford. Milan are a good team.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well we've all seen Milan in the past they've beaten Man utd and why not again. I predict that Milan will win 3-0 at the San Siro and will win 1-0 at Old Trafford. Milan are a good team.

  • Comment number 26.

    17. At 12:28pm on 15 Feb 2010, Ranger Will Robinson! wrote:
    Re: 2. "A problem Milan have is that so many of their key players- Nesta, Gattuso, Seedorf, Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Beckham - are ageing"

    This is simply Milan's philosophy. For the last twenty years at least we've been told they have "an ageing side" since the club seems to place a higher value on experience than potential.

    And with a record in Europe second only to Real Madrid, who can argue with them?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------


    They last won the Champions League in 2003. Half that team is still there. The AC Milan teams that won the European Cup before that were not full of old players.

  • Comment number 27.

    2007 I should say.

  • Comment number 28.

    14. Subterranean wrote:
    "I would say that Ronaldinho, Pato and Pirlo can match Rooney technically though."

    What does 'technical' actually mean though?

    It always crops up when people are saying how much better foreign players are than their English counterparts!

    If it means passing, control and awareness, then perhaps the likes of Ronaldinho (not so much these days though), Pato and Pirlo are in the same ball-park (thought not as good in my opinion), but Rooney has added facets to his game, like pace and power. Not 'technical' assets but they make him a much more dangerous player.

  • Comment number 29.

    Pato will steal the winner...........you heard it hear first!

    Eddy Cordoza

    I totally agree.........I for one beleive La Liga is a technically better league but im not saying that it makes it better than thr Premiership. Comparing Rooney to Pato,Pirlo and Ronaldinho just isnt as easy as touch awareness etc...I for one cant wait for this game. wonder what the odds on Beckham to score are??

  • Comment number 30.

    They last won the Champions League in 2003. Half that team is still there. The AC Milan teams that won the European Cup before that were not full of old players.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    milan actually last won the champions league in 2007, but anyway i feel ancelotti has left them in a bit of a mess which has meant leonardo has inherired an ageing squad and a former world best player (ronaldinho) who doesn't seem to have the same desire to beat his player. leonardo needs a certain amount of money to inject a few more frsh legs. but over 2 legs they are still very dangerous, but over a long season in the league they won't be good enough. the way united will win is we have to prey ferdinand isn't rusty, evra keeps pato quiet and ronaldinho is not at his creative best(even if not skipping past 2 defenders). apart from that, with fletcher on the form of his life along with carrick then i thinmk we can bost the midfield with more energy. also with nani playin well (minus the sending off) we now have real quality and penetration out wide to get at there full bks

  • Comment number 31.

    26. At 1:18pm on 15 Feb 2010, Subterranean wrote:
    17. At 12:28pm on 15 Feb 2010, Ranger Will Robinson! wrote:
    Re: 2. "A problem Milan have is that so many of their key players- Nesta, Gattuso, Seedorf, Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Beckham - are ageing"

    This is simply Milan's philosophy. For the last twenty years at least we've been told they have "an ageing side" since the club seems to place a higher value on experience than potential.

    And with a record in Europe second only to Real Madrid, who can argue with them?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------


    They last won the Champions League in 2003. Half that team is still there. The AC Milan teams that won the European Cup before that were not full of old players.

    ..............................................................

    Dude please don't write things you don't have a clue on.. Milan last won the CL in 2003? Who played Liverpool in the 05 and 07 final? was it united? please get your fact rights, it iritates me when I see people who have limited or no knowledge about football comment on articles of such brilliant content....

  • Comment number 32.

    Rafael was talked about maybe not being able handle Ronaldinho but surely Ferguson could use Neville out at RB in the away leg since there isn't likely to be much Milan pace out left what with Favalli currently filling in at LB and Ronnie slowing recently. Brown however might be the likely choice if Ferguson decides Evans can handle Centre-back duties. Where is Beckham likely to play though since he has been a sub in 2 of Milans' most recent games and has filled in for the fit-again Pato. Maybe it all depends on who plays in the central role up front (I hear Borriello is injured?), if Huntelaar plays then Becham will have to play instead of Gattuso alongside Ambrosini and Pirlo or sit on the bench. If Pato is used through the middle for the counter then Beckham will play in the right attacking position.

  • Comment number 33.

    24. At 1:17pm on 15 Feb 2010, lfcfan999 wrote:
    Well we've all seen Milan in the pas they've beaten Man utd and why not again. I predict that Milan will win 3-0 at the San Siro and will win 1-0 at Old Trafford. Milan are a good team.
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Wishful thinking, I suspect...

    As a United fan, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Milan nick a win at the San Siro. But, as many have already pointed out, I would expect United to utilise the pace and power of our attack to push the Milan defence at Old Trafford. United should have just enough to see off the Italians, but expect a close tie.

    Ronaldinho should never be counted out - he still possesses that wonderful talent and has the ability to produce a moment of magic that can change a game. Whoever fills the right back slot for United will need to be on top of his game. That said, The visitors also possess a player capable at times of winning games on his own - one Mr Rooney. The outcome of the tie could simply depend on which of the big players is able to impose himself on the game most.

  • Comment number 34.

    Im a Man United fan but I feel people that are writing off Milan are underestimating them. They are seen as an ageing and fading giant of European football but the fact is that Milan are in the knock-out stages of the Champions League year after year. They're the most recent Italian winners of the CL and won it with a team that had an average age of 31. Not a lot of people are aware of the Milan Lab either - a top secret scientific research institution designed to prolong the careers of more experienced stars. Maldini, Costacurta, Inzaghi etc. are all examples of the work the Milan Lab carries out and it's no surprise why they were so keen to re-sign Beckham - even at 34. What Milan lack in pace they make up for with experience and although they're not having an awe inspiring season I feel United will only win playing at their best. Ryan Giggs put it prefectly - 'We can't be giving away free-kicks 25 or 30 yards from goal.' If United remain disciplined and focused while following Fergie's game plan then we'll be ok but slip-ups will not go unpunished...

  • Comment number 35.

    Milan are my Italian team having followed them since the days of Van Basten etc. So I know what I am talking about.

    Appointing Leonardo, a scout with the club, to the position of manager was totally mad. If you watch Milan week in week out like I do they have some serious problems.

    The club have just lost Maldini - (he might not have been the player he was the last couple of years but his presence in the dressing room was amazing) and appointed Ambrosini as captain. He should not even be in the team - and this is the problem. There are too many Milan "Old Boys" at the club. The squad needs a right old shake up if SB would actually put his hands in his pockets - which he wont !!!

    Playing 4-3-3 as you mentioned Tim is the only way they can play if they want to have both Pirlo & Ronaldinho in the team because neither can play their roles in other formations. Pirlo is not good enough at the holding role unless he has 2 defensive midfielders with him, likewise Ronaldinho is not a tradition left midfielder or second striker (anymore).

    Beckham playing on the right wing of a 4-3-3 will never work because he doesn't get enough goals or have enough pace for that position.

    Nesta - wonderful but spent all last season out injured. He just doesn't have the legs any more.

    Pato needs help !!!

    Man Utd will demolish them (that hurt - I am Chelsea fan) !!!

  • Comment number 36.

    and appointed Ambrosini as captain. He should not even be in the team - and this is the problem.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Seems the last time you've watched Milan was when Van Basten played!Ambrosini has been the most consistent Milan player this season.He's been absolutely magnificent and has put Ivan Gattuso in the shade.He does what he does well and allows Pirlo to play.Maybe you should watch 'your'Italian team a little more!

  • Comment number 37.

    ManU is an average team; this reality is concealed by the poor form of the EPL this season. Even though Milan is not exactly flying in serie A, they have more experience, talent and technique than the current ManU. Rooney is the only outstanding player and has yet to perform in Europe.

  • Comment number 38.

    Ronaldinho at left-back for brazil? :P

  • Comment number 39.

    Ambrosini just runs around alot aka a premiership player - that does not make him any good. Just because Gattuso has been equelly as bad for some time does not make Ambrosini a good player. Compared with someone like De Rossi he is miles behind.

    My main point is that the Milan team is currently knowhere near the standard of 2003 & 2007 - hense why Utd will demolish them. (Oh I said it again - it hurts, it hurts !!!)

  • Comment number 40.

    Milan should buy the following players to sort them out:

    Amelia, Palombo, Pazzini, Montolivo. Mid 20's players.

  • Comment number 41.

    Its gonna be a very interesting game and im already looking forward to it. One thing i know is that SAF wil wanna try to oppress the milan players at sansiro by bringing the game to them. My prediction is that man utd(my darling team) wil carry d day. Check this formatn out
    VDS...Rafael...Ferdinand...Evans...Evra...Nani...Fletcher...Scholes...Carrick...Valencia...Rooney
    wit a 5man midfield wit 2 wingers and Wazza upfront,milan wnt be able 2 handle d power and pace.Also the pressure is on them cos they r at home. I wld be foolish to also ignore the likes of ronaldinho and pato..Those two have been spectacular ds season. Both Milan and United ve a fair share of injury worries too. Seriously,im lukin forward to it,cant wait til 2mrw. Man Utd rules!

  • Comment number 42.

    My god I hope all fellow MU fans are correct about a win or overall 2 leg win. Personally I think we could get absolutely spanked! Come On United!

  • Comment number 43.

    I thought Leonardo was a fine player circa 1994. His reputation was obviously tarnished by THAT elbow but his good grace on World Cup Match of the Day in 2006 went some way to repairing that reputation.

    Tab Ramos probably deserved it anyway!

    www.sweetleftfoot.com

  • Comment number 44.

    37. At 2:22pm on 15 Feb 2010, guyastral wrote:
    ManU is an average team; this reality is concealed by the poor form of the EPL this season. Even though Milan is not exactly flying in serie A, they have more experience, talent and technique than the current ManU. Rooney is the only outstanding player and has yet to perform in Europe.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Rooney 'yet to perform in Europe'? Did you watch his Champions League debut? Care to tell us how many goals he scored?

    You plum.

  • Comment number 45.

    megachris - I agree with your team but I think Carrick will be played deep. He is made for that position. Also Valencia might be preferred away from home although like you I personally would prefer Nani as he would be a more devastating partner with Rooney on the break.

    Subterranean - a bit harsh on the United players fella. Gattusso has never shown much technique, although I believe Seedorf is a very underestimated player in the team. Also the likes of Ronaldinho and Beckham (if he plays) will be motivated to raise their game against United to could prove dangerous on the night. So long as we are intouch after the first leg I see another night of devastating glory from United in the second leg with a quarter final against Real Madrid!

  • Comment number 46.

    Guyastral #37. I think you might be living in the past fella like your owner.

  • Comment number 47.

    At 2:02pm on 15 Feb 2010, David Rolls wrote:
    Milan are my Italian team having followed them since the days of Van Basten etc. So I know what I am talking about.

    Appointing Leonardo, a scout with the club, to the position of manager was totally mad. If you watch Milan week in week out like I do they have some serious problems.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Fabio Capello was appointed in precisely the same manner replacing Sacchi in the early 90's after working for one of Silvio's companies ala Leonardo without any coaching experience and we all know how that turned out.

  • Comment number 48.

    43. At 3:20pm on 15 Feb 2010, leesio wrote:
    I thought Leonardo was a fine player circa 1994. His reputation was obviously tarnished by THAT elbow but his good grace on World Cup Match of the Day in 2006 went some way to repairing that reputation.

    Tab Ramos probably deserved it anyway!

    www.sweetleftfoot.com
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What a ridiculous thing to say, I cannot believe your vile comment made it through. Tab Ramos probably deserved a fractured skull??? I do not think any professional sportsman "deserves" and sickening injury, let alone one that is savagely administered by another so-called professional. Leonardo should never have been allowed to play for Brazil again as what he did to that poor man in that game goes against everything the world cup is about.

    Strange coinsidence here as the other savage and sickening assault in UAS 94 was delivered by Mauro Tasotti on Luis Enrique, the image of which still sends a sickening shudder down my spine to this day. 2 former milan players, past misdemeanours that sum up their brutal and callous personalities. Hopefully Leonardo has not been served his full come uppence yet

  • Comment number 49.

    .....2 former milan players, past misdemeanours that sum up their brutal and callous personalities.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And Man Utd has been full of saints like Roy Keane over the years that did not end rival players' careers? Hmmmmm......

  • Comment number 50.

    David Rolls I have to say I totally disagree... Ambrosini is a cracking player and has been for a while.. filling in various roles throughout his career.. and to say Pirlo is not a good enough player without 2 other holding midfielders next to him is crazy.. Im sure there are a lot of teams in Europe who would dare to maybe try and prove your theory wrong by taking him on as a player..

  • Comment number 51.

    Its so amazing and amusing to learn how people Judge players based on a few performances and immediately come to a conclusion ,that he is the best in the world, Players like Ronaldinho, Pirlo , Seedorf have won it all and ride their game on experience and have been succesful ageingly, how has Rooney proved his worth to be compared with other players, he is a good Man U lad in the EPL alone. lets see if he can prove the world wrong by showing he can play well against the best.will he, Only time will tell. Stop being biased everybody.dont get carried away .........

  • Comment number 52.

    Tjan
    ==================================================
    roy keane was no saint, far from it, but he didnt end haland's career. his "tackle" was on haland's right knee. haland was forced to retire due to an injury on his left knee a year later

  • Comment number 53.

    diamondronaldinho
    ===================================

    the united team has been to the last two finals, and won one of them so you can argue that they know how to win it, they not exactly strangers to success. united are in better form than milan, and you cant say that ronaldihno has been aging successfully. rooney has also played very well in europe, and this is the first season he's been the focus of the united team, and he showing what he's really capable of, chances are he'll show it against milan

  • Comment number 54.

    RE: sins of the past, isn't real life about shades of grey? Leonardo's act resulted in a horrible injury, but lots of players have done the same thing without causing any damage. Presumably few of them, Leonardo included, thought "right, I'll seriously injure his skull" at the time. It was a nasty act with bad consequences but in the context of great pressure when perhaps you only see a particular side of human beings? Speaking as a Man Utd supporter, even though Roy Keane's assault caused a less dramatic injury, the act was probably more despicable because it seemed to be premeditated.

    Anyway, following the principle that most of us are capable of doing bad things in the certain circimstances and that neither Keane nor Leonardo can be defined entirely by those single acts, it seems to be that we don't have the right to self-righteously condemn them in perpetuity.

    As for the forthcoming tie, it could pan out in a number of different ways.

  • Comment number 55.

    diamondronaldinho - your talking about the Champs League Champions of 2007 and finallists from 2008, not just a team good in the EPL alone... What have Italian clubs done since 2005?

  • Comment number 56.

    redthemadsheep2001

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thats not the point. Leo's mistake is being held against him even when it was an unfortuante incident. How many times have you seen the elbow used by an attacking palyer being pulled back? Several times incl Ronaldo, Messi etc....but I'd never call them dirty. Leo's happened to land just at wrong spot and fracture the guy's skull which was terrible for Ramos.

  • Comment number 57.

    Tjan - your quite right, Keane's tackle was a silly one. Hopefully the bad karma went with him;)

  • Comment number 58.

    55. At 4:02pm on 15 Feb 2010, United Dreamer wrote:
    diamondronaldinho - your talking about the Champs League Champions of 2007 and finallists from 2008, not just a team good in the EPL alone... What have Italian clubs done since 2005?

    ________________________________________________________________________

    United Dreamer?

    You must be dreaming if you think those are the years we were in the final...

  • Comment number 59.

    Leonardo still has a lot to prove as tactical expert. Games against Livorno, Inter etc. cannot be forget.

    Leonardo started the season with 4-3-3 true. But after a while he realized that he cannot afford to play clean 4-3-3 formation with the likes of Jankulovski and Zambrotta as fullbacks, plus the specific position of Pirlo as lying-deep playmaker with free role when Milan attacks. For the last couple of months partially due to Pato injury Milan played rather 4-3-2-1 known as Xmas tree formation with Borrielo lonely striker masked as 4-3-3 from time to time (with Huntelaar).

    As the to the Milan "aging" team - Milan defence has the average age of 27 which might be a big surprise to many here. And Nesta is better than any defender Mutd have at the moment (and not only).

    I don't see how Carrick--Fletch--Scholes could win the midfield against Pirlo--Gattuso(Seedorf)--Ambrosini. We've seen this movie before and you know how it finished. However if MU put more men behind the ball which i expect they will Milan dominant ball possession might not be so fruitful. It will depend very much how Ronadlinho - Pato will link then. Judging from the last game there's certian hope.
    In games where Milan had to defend we showed that we can soak the presssure against very offensive teams like Madrid or Marseille and hit them at the right moment. First goal will be fundamental - if MU scores first they will sit and defend waiting for every opportunity to contra-attack fast. But if Milan score first then the Ronaldinho - Pato connection may be deadly for Mu whenever they leave some space in their own half.

    Pato is amazing striker. I think most people who haven't watched serie A don't realize how good actually he is. Many people in Brazil think that despite the likes of Adriano, Fabiano, Robinho etc. Pato is already the best brazilian striker and Brazil biggest hope for the World Cup depsite his age of 20 - yes 20 years. I've seen only one player that made such impact of the game at this age and at the highest possible level - Ronaldo - the REAL ONE.

  • Comment number 60.

    31. At 1:49pm on 15 Feb 2010, mohtechnix wrote:
    Dude please don't write things you don't have a clue on.. Milan last won the CL in 2003? Who played Liverpool in the 05 and 07 final? was it united? please get your fact rights, it iritates me when I see people who have limited or no knowledge about football comment on articles of such brilliant content....
    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Give me a break mate, look at post 27 following on from post 26, you can't edit blog posts unfortunately. The fact it's the same core of the team from the 2003, 05, and 07 finals, which was my point. Get off your high horse.

  • Comment number 61.

    I really do not see the Milan Old Boys Club winning this over the two legs.

    Beckham's inclusion in the team is creating a lot of media hype, and will no doubt create a bit of a media circus for the "homecoming" .... where he will get a great reception from the fans. However, he is being played in a position where he is not particularly effective.

    I expect United to concentrate more on keeping a clean sheet in the 1st leg, but should still score against the Milan defense, which is not the most stable. See them having a tough time against United. So first leg will be either a score draw or United by one.

    At OT I see United winning it without raising too much of a sweat, and their anticipated away goal will also play to their advantage.

    So, United to get through this stage without too much difficulty.

    Milan are nowhere near the force they were, and need to make a lot of changes during the off-season.

  • Comment number 62.

    Is there any chance you could be less condescending in your next article. I only made it about half way through this one before I literally had to stop in disgust.

    ‘After Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked by Chelsea, I commented that the breakthrough by Brazilian coaches in Europe would probably be made by those with some history of playing in the continent.’ - Yeah, I’m sure the personnel at AC Milan were just waiting for some reassurance from yourself that an appointment such as his was appropriate.

    Additionally, I can not believe you tried to question Leonardo’s capacity to articulate his visions for the future of football. ‘He'd talked without content’. This coming from as man who so cleverly and humorously stated, ‘As a general rule, I prefer to make my predictions after the event - I find it does wonders for their accuracy’.

    This is the most self-indulgent tripe I have ever read in my life and I’m sure the aristocracy of the football world are waiting with baited breath for your next column.

  • Comment number 63.

    55. At 4:02pm on 15 Feb 2010, United Dreamer wrote:
    diamondronaldinho - your talking about the Champs League Champions of 2007 and finallists from 2008, not just a team good in the EPL alone... What have Italian clubs done since 2005?

    --------
    apart from providing the current world cup winners?

    Rooney might be the messiah in England but the fact is that he’s not rated else where. To those who don’t like this simple fact, try looking outside the EPL now and then, you might find out that there’s a big world out there.

  • Comment number 64.

    CC-Chase

    Show some respect, you idiot.

    I read Tim's column regularly and it's clear that he has an enthusiasm for and understanding of football which is pretty much unrivalled. He knows more about the game than all the posters on here put together.

    He usually writes on South American football. Now, as soon as he writes about something relvant to a Premier League team, if only by association, maybe 'dumbing down' a little for the crowd that read the McNulty blogs, he gets subjected to posts of incoherent abuse from clowns like you.

    Get a life.

  • Comment number 65.

    kanchelskis you quite right my bad.

    Guyastral Serie A as a whole is not rated elsewhere.

  • Comment number 66.

    Talking as a Milan fan, I'd be the first to accept we have problems. But I hate it when people who have no clue on the italian footy or Milan itself comment about their age/strength.

    Ancellotti while he was successful left quite an aging team without blooding younger players. Leo has made progress this season with the likes of Silver, Abate and Antonnini who have pace. Names that most commenters here are probably not familiar with because they dont see beyond EPL. But still experience has its own virtues and this was the same things we heard when we faced Man U in 2007....Ronaldo will wipe floor with Maldini, Rooney will finish Cafu....etc. We all know how that ended.

    While am not Milan will definitely win over 2 legs, these big UCL games are just the type that the Milan team is well suited for with big game players that have seen it all and knowing this the only chance of silverware(the boat of serie a has sailed away since the derby though I hope to be wrong).


  • Comment number 67.

    guyastral,

    Look inside the EPL, and you'll find 9 out of the last 12 Champions League semifinalists.

  • Comment number 68.

    acmilanfan Pato is definitely one player to look out for as is a rejuvenated Ronaldinho playing in a big match, not to mention Beckham if he is played. Pirlo can be got at if Fletcher and Park are playing. With a packed defence he will be harder to play against but the key for me is how much possession Seedorf and Gattusso can win.

  • Comment number 69.

    "With a packed defence he will be harder to play against "

    Meant WE will be harder to play against

  • Comment number 70.

    Ah CC-Chase (*I have to just shake my head just a little wistfully) If only you had read through the second half of the article then you would have been better placed to comment.
    I enjoyed that piece, and certainly agree on Tim's thoughts on Leonardo. I thought it was a bit of an odd choice at the time of his appointment, but he is slowly winning me over. If they (Milan) can get past United I can see him building the squad up for a good shot at some silverware next season.

    as an aside, I felt when the draw was made that all three EPL teams could go out. I think the chances of that happening are a bit slimmer now than they were in December but still, Europe seems to have caught up with the "big four", or have the EPL teams got worse?

  • Comment number 71.

    By the way people who look at the last match we played against AC Milan (was it 2006?) but forget we had Fletcher playing at right back due to injuries in the back four in the first leg (if memory serves me). However I do remember that the key players were Gattusso and Seedorf who gained the possession that Kaka was so devastating in using.

  • Comment number 72.

    "apart from providing the current world cup winners?

    Rooney might be the messiah in England but the fact is that he’s not rated else where. To those who don’t like this simple fact, try looking outside the EPL now and then, you might find out that there’s a big world out there.
    "

    In 2006. But do you really think even the world cup winners could beat the top European club sides?

  • Comment number 73.

    65. At 4:36pm on 15 Feb 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    kanchelskis you quite right my bad.

    Guyastral Serie A as a whole is not rated elsewhere.

    -----------------------------
    As a matter of fact is more rated at least in Spain, Argentina and Brazil than the EPL

  • Comment number 74.

    62 - i don't think i ever suggested that milan should have waited for my approval before appointing leonardo - had they done so, they would have waited a long time! The piece is a mea culpa - a confession that i misjudged him.

  • Comment number 75.

    "73. At 4:52pm on 15 Feb 2010, guyastral wrote:
    65. At 4:36pm on 15 Feb 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    kanchelskis you quite right my bad.

    Guyastral Serie A as a whole is not rated elsewhere.

    -----------------------------
    As a matter of fact is more rated at least in Spain, Argentina and Brazil than the EPL
    "

    Apparently their ratings are not replicated by results in the Champions League.

  • Comment number 76.

    Firstly the guy comparing Leonardo the player to Park and Guti has to be kidding.He won the World Cup playing as a left back and played in the next one as an attacking midfielder.Maybe he wasnt a great but he was a pretty decent footballer.Much more talented than the rubbish paraded by PL teams that are heralded as the next great thing.
    Secondly this match is going to be tight.All the 'we'll blow them away'talk is just internet bluster.Both sides steeped in European pedigree wont underestimate each other unlike their so called fans on this forum.
    Lastly Beckham wont start.Maybe he's carrying an injury but he's been awful since he came back to Milan.No way he's keeping out Pato!

  • Comment number 77.

    Tim, thanks for reminding us what the blog was originally about! Do you think Leonardo’s career is starting to resemble that of Valdano’s?

  • Comment number 78.

    "While am not Milan will definitely win over 2 legs, these big UCL games are just the type that the Milan team is well suited for with big game players that have seen it all and knowing this the only chance of silverware(the boat of serie a has sailed away since the derby though I hope to be wrong)."

    I actually agree Tjan that this is a possibility but if you are not out of sight after the first leg I see the second leg producing a strong performance that puts us through. Funnily enough I see a scoreless draw being the best result for you as we have in the past at times found it difficult to plan how to approach the second leg when this happens. I hope we don't produce our normal cagey defensive performance away from home as they can be hell to watch. Plus I don't trust us not to give away a string of free kicks outside our penalty area that inevitably arise when we play too deep. With players like Beckham and Ronaldinho this might cause us severe problems.

  • Comment number 79.

    United Dreamer - AC Milan won the Champions League in 2007. They subsequently became World Champions, only dethroned by your team United in December 2008.. 14 months ago. Couple this with the fact that Italy are also the current World Champions and your comment about Italian teams doing nothing since 2005 starts to look breathtakingly inaccurate.

  • Comment number 80.

    Definitely an interesting tie... Like someone pointed out, the jury is still out regarding Leonardo's coaching material, although Milan have improved their form and game in the past few months, you can't help but thinking that they still look so vulnerable in defense. Although the midfield seems to be really strong, with long crosses and fast pace football their whole strategy seems to crumble, as Internazionale showed many times a few weeks ago.
    It's hard to judge these close ties, but if I had to bet on either side, I think my money would be on United's side... Rooney and company have been on top form as of lately and they're desperate to knock a Milan side that has always had the edge on the english.
    As for those recalling the last tie between these 2 teams... let's not forget there was a brazilian player, who pretty much won the tie on his own, ah yeh, his name is Kaka. And you've gotta be kidding yourself if you are to compare Ronaldinho to him...

  • Comment number 81.

    Many have repeated that Milan are too old, for at least 16 years (e.g. before the Milan-Barcelona final of 1994, result 4-0). It's not entirely true. Only 5 players (Dida, Nesta, and the three midfielders) are over 30. The players that must run most (the full-backs, and the right wing) are very young, especially Pato. So the problem is more specific: the midfield Ambrosini, Pirlo, Gattuso (or Seedorf, Beckham) have played together for longer than any other midfield in professional football 10 years (except Beckham), but indeed are much slower than the Man U midfield. If I were leonardo, I'd bring in Flamini for this match.

    Forecast: 0-0; 2-2 (2 Rooney, 2 Pato). Experience pays in the CL.

  • Comment number 82.

    "79. At 5:11pm on 15 Feb 2010, apbats wrote:
    United Dreamer - AC Milan won the Champions League in 2007. They subsequently became World Champions, only dethroned by your team United in December 2008.. 14 months ago. Couple this with the fact that Italy are also the current World Champions and your comment about Italian teams doing nothing since 2005 starts to look breathtakingly inaccurate.
    "

    Your quite right. LOL - its true. That'll teach me to post when I should be working! Thats said, since the corruption scandal Italian clubs have been a shadow of their former glory. Since then Inter Milan never looked like coming close to beating us nor have Roma. Tbh I think SAF will see this match as a chance to redress the torment Kaka put us through.

  • Comment number 83.

    United Dreamer " Tbh I think SAF will see this match as a chance to redress the torment Kaka put us through."

    Fingers crossed, Pato will do the same just as fellow countryman n South American - Kaka and Crespo did.

  • Comment number 84.

    80 - In his days, Ronaldinho was much better than Kaka' will ever be. Problem is that his days are gone.

    And talking about the last tie between that italian club and Man Utd, Milan since then added Pato to their squad, who I rate as their best player now. Pirlo, as a deep-lying playmaker never needed pace or "power"(as someone said) and I always thought on him as an underrated player(for me he was the best player on WC2006, finito), Ronaldinho is showing signs of recovery and Gattuso and Ambrosini is the best ball-winning midfield duo in the world.

    Having said that I believe that Milan, on paper, has the upper hand against Man Utd.

    The difference lies in management, Carlo Ancelotti last days on Milan were chaotic(Going to the UEFA Cup in favour of a weaker Fiorentina is a disaster for Milan) and I don't think that Leonardo is half the manager that Sir Alex Ferguson is.

    Maybe Leonardo will be someday(and "maybe" is a very hopeful word, because SAF is the best manager in history and I can only see Guardiola edging him in the next 30 years) but today it is clearly who has the best man management skills. (Although I criticized him in the past over what he has done with Anderson)

    This one will be the most interesting tie in the Champions right now and - pardon english readers - I will be supporting Milan and their Brazilian Legion.

    Avanti Rossoneri!

  • Comment number 85.

    galoucura - I agree that the manager might be the key difference give the realtive gaps in experience. I would hope that if Milan do get knocked out that wouldn't spell the end for the manager.

    On Anderson - I'm hoping that he is looking at Nani and realises that there is a chance to come back from the dead through hard work and the right attitude. He has the ability. He just needs to make it work for the team.

  • Comment number 86.

    #83 "Fingers crossed, Pato will do the same just as fellow countryman n South American - Kaka and Crespo did. "

    Fingers crossed he doesn't!

  • Comment number 87.

    Much as i enjoy history,i hate to say that it is of less value to the modern day football. It is therefore illogical to conclude that Milan is the team to beat simply because they 've won in all their previous encounters with Man United...well i may i say to you all that power has obviously changed hands and it's United's turn to steer the wheel.

  • Comment number 88.

    #22.

    That is the most honest assessment I've ever read from a Manchester United fan.

    For the doubters, don't underestimate Milan in this competition.

  • Comment number 89.

    I think Leonardo has done a fantastic job so far. He inherited a squad that included Nesta who had been out for 2 years, no decent keeper, a clearly declining Gattuso and no Kaka.

    He made a poor start but has responded brilliantly. He's revived Ronaldinho, Boriello and Ambrosini with his new system, and hopefully he can do the same with Mancini. Nesta and Silva are probably the best partnership at the back in the league. Hopefully Silva can be fit for the United game, because I cant see the likes of Bonera or Favalli containing Berbatov let alone Rooney. Attacking-wise Milan are deadly when Pato and Boriello are fit, and Huntelaar's starting to settle in too.

    As for Ronaldinho, clearly Dunga dislikes change; how else would you explain the inclusion of Julio Baptista who can't get in the Roma side? I would love to see Dinho at the world cup. He deserves it more than Robinho.

  • Comment number 90.

    "Leonardo was never a great player. He was a good one, but was probably more impressive as a man than as a footballer."

    This is the most ignorant piece of journalism I have ever read. To arrogantly undermine the achievements of a man who won 60 caps for Brazil (the greatest footballing nation in history) is extremely poor. Not only was leonardo a great player of his time but one of the greats to have ever lived. I would love to see who makes the bracket of being a "great player" if a legend at A.C. Milan does not meet the criteria. He was in the squad that won the world cup in 1994 and played in every match including the final in 1998. His record speaks for itself and Mr Vickery should surely revise his comments.

  • Comment number 91.

    Uniteds defence will have trouble with the highly skilled Pato and Ronaldhino. However, Ferguson seems to have finally discovered the meaning of the word "tactics" and realised that you can win a game by altering your set-up and preventing your opponents from playing their game. He did this very effectively against Arsenal a couple of weeks, ago. Had he done so last may then United wouldn't have been undressed by Barcelona.
    I digress. United will pack the midfield in the first leg, and Milan will be out gunned with only three guys up against a the high energy bunches of worker bees that United's midfield now comprises of. Rooney will see plenty of opportunities and he will only need to take one.
    A tie away from home for United, and then they will have a field day at Old Trafford. 1-1.. 3-1.

  • Comment number 92.

    "Leonardo was never a great player. He was a good one, but was probably more impressive as a man than as a footballer."

    This is the most ignorant piece of journalism I have ever read. To arrogantly undermine the achievements of a man who won 60 caps for Brazil (the greatest footballing nation in history) is extremely poor. Not only was leonardo a great player of his time but one of the greats to have ever lived. I would love to see who makes the bracket of being a "great player" if a legend at A.C. Milan does not meet the criteria. He was in the squad that won the world cup in 1994 and played in every match including the final in 1998. His record speaks for itself and Mr Vickery should surely revise his comments.
    ===========================================================

    he was nt a gret player though, he was a good stalwart player for brazil, ever dependable. its no slight against him

  • Comment number 93.

    He won everything in football

  • Comment number 94.

    torontored
    ====================================
    agree with most of your post, but you talk about barcelona, but miss the fact that we shut them out over two legs the season before by not allowing them to play their game. it wasnt simply just a matter of tactics in rome, we didnt perform aginst last year, thats all.

  • Comment number 95.

    I see this being tight over the 2 legs, i see the first leg being tight, Leonardo will know if milan over commit united will do the typical fast and accurate counter attacking with rooney , nani , and park. I see both teams trying to counter attack which will result in a quite dull game. 1-1 i will say with milans goal from ronaldinho or pato exposing one of the united defenders, The second leg i think has the potential to be really exiting. If man utd get the first goal in the first half then i think they will let milan come looking for a goal and maybe put 2 or 3 past milan again on the counter attack, However if milan can hold out for the first half an hour i think if they het the ball to ronaldinho in the right areas then they could hurt man utd. Fergusons plan will be to get Fletcher and Carrick to smother Pirlo and expose Antonini and Abate. Nesta will be crucial for milan, firstly to stop rooney geting on the ball , although when rooney comes deep i think Leonardo will ask gattuso or ambrosini to pick him up. So there could be spaces for scholes to have some shots and we all know how dida feels about long shots.

  • Comment number 96.

    "Leonardo was never a great player. He was a good one, but was probably more impressive as a man than as a footballer."

    This is the most ignorant piece of journalism I have ever read. To arrogantly undermine the achievements of a man who won 60 caps for Brazil (the greatest footballing nation in history) is extremely poor. Not only was leonardo a great player of his time but one of the greats to have ever lived. I would love to see who makes the bracket of being a "great player" if a legend at A.C. Milan does not meet the criteria. He was in the squad that won the world cup in 1994 and played in every match including the final in 1998. His record speaks for itself and Mr Vickery should surely revise his comments.

    --------

    'Great' is a very over-used statement nowadays. If the likes of Zico, Pele, Garrincha are described as great the Leo surely can't be. Footballing wise he doesn't come close to those . Also look at the players around him at the 1994 World up: Romario, Dunga, Rai. They were a at a different level.

    I see where you're getting at, but you can't categorise Leo in the same group as some of 'great' names in the past.

  • Comment number 97.

    Owen
    ======================

    i was going to reply but #95 has pretty said it spot on. again when i say he was a good player, its not a slight against him or any of the fantastic success he achieved, but you cant call him great next to romario etc. always liked him as a player and i wish him the best success at milan, just as long as its not in the upcoming games against us

  • Comment number 98.

    Let's say Leonardo was English and was a manchester united legend. Im pretty sure it would be hard to find anyone bold enough to say he wasn't great. I've heard "great" being linked with paul gascoigne, chris waddle, gary lineker etc etc all of which I would regard leonardo as better than.

  • Comment number 99.

    Owen
    ===================
    maybe thats mroe down to english hyperbole. my point is simply that compared to romario etc he was a good player, thats all.

  • Comment number 100.

    My point is that it is fair to say that a player "is more impressive as a man than aa a footballer" if the player is titus bramble. How on earth is leonardo not impressive as footballer? did you see what he could do with that left foot?

 

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