Leonardo remains optimistic

Milan wasted a huge opportunity last evening.
Maybe it was profligate Milan failing to put away a number of chances in the first 20 minutes, Paul Scholes lucky equalizer, Clarence Seedorf pulling one back, and a Michael Carrick that will not be around to bolster the midfield.
Whatever it is, Leonardo has not given up. A San Siro reversal of sorts at Old Trafford. They have to score 2-0 to win on aggregate. Every other combination below that minimum remains adverse. It’s a tall order.
Can this Milan team do it? They went to the Bernabeu and contrary to expectations, recorded a famous victory against Real Madrid in the group stages. Man Utd is on a 25 unbeaten streak at Old Trafford in CL competition. The last team to win was Milan in 2004-2005 when the visitors won, 1-0. So there are some past and present wins on the road that should provide inspiration.
Against Man Utd, Ronaldinho had his way with Rafael and the Milan midfield enjoyed a greater amount of possession in the first half. The inability to finish their chances proved costly otherwise they might have been up by a couple or more goals.
The presence of in form Marco Boriello might have made the difference as Milan’s recent lull in scoring coincides with his injury. The former Napoli striker has been the beneficiary of some typical on the money crosses by Beckham. The difference is that he has been very good at finishing off chances. Daniele Bonera and Thiago Silva kept Rooney and Park Ji Sung relatively quiet but for two occasions, Rooney’s predatory instincts bested those efforts.
I remember two seasons ago, a superlative Patrice Evra cross headed by Rooney against Arsenal to go one up. The commentators were agog at the striker’s newly found aerial ability. He has added that weapon nicely to his arsenal.
Milan’s main problem is how to keep up with United’s undoubted speed and superior counterattacking abilities and to keep a fading midfield fresh in the second half. It is clear that Pirlo, Beckham, and Ambrosini have difficulties keeping up for a full 90 minutes. Leonardo has to find a creative way of rotating his midfield and finding the conduit to Ronaldinho. Mathieu Flamini should be considered. But thus far he has not found favour with Leonardo.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s insistence that Rafael will continue to start in place of the more defensive minded Wes Brown gives an inkling of hope opening up opportunities for Ronaldinho.
But even if everything goes to plan and Ronaldinho’s guile and vision finds Pato for a lovely brace and the defense keeps the Man Utd attack on a tight leash what bets that an own goal sinks Milan? Fatalistic yes, but it has been that kind of season for the Red Devils. It adds to their fearsome reputation of never being counted out even when on the ropes.

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