It’s a shame that Wednesday night’s UEFA Champions League, Group F at the Stadio Olimpico clash between AS Roma and Manchester United will be nothing more than academic. Both sides have qualified for the knockout stages and Man United have won the group. Sir Alex Ferguson has also committed himself to several alterations to the squad that traveled to Rome with Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, Carlos Tevez and Rio Ferdinand all rested ahead of the weekend’s titan clash with Liverpool.
Yet in spite of the fact that the match hasn’t any importance, the passion and emotions whirling at the Olimpic Stadium on Wednesday night would be massive. Everyone remembers the two-legged quarterfinals that the two sides featured in against each other last season. At the time, Roma came on top in the first leg but Manchester United created a riot at Old Trafford and won the match 7-1, the heaviest ever defeat suffered by Roma in Europe and the biggest win in the history of knockout stages in the European Cup.
In the first leg this season played out at Old Trafford in October ended in a 1-0 win for the Red Devils with Wayne Rooney scoring the winner in the 70th minute. Manchester United fielded a full strength that day but this time around, a number of new faces will be observed. Danny Simpson, Jonny Evans, Febian Brandy and Sam Hewson all feature in the squad. Wayne Rooney will be deployed as captain.
Roma would field a relatively strong squad with club captain Francesco Totti due to start but midfielder Simone Perrotta is a doubt while Marco Cassetti is out suspended. So there’s no doubt that Roma are the stronger team in this match and much depends on the Man United young players. Will they be able to pull it off?
The security at the ground too would be under scrutiny. In their meeting at the Stadio Olimpico, the police security couldn’t control a fan trouble and the travelling Man United supporters faced much of their brunt. This time the risk stats is given a Category A list and the police forces deployed inside the stadium will be all vigilant.
Police chief Carlo Mosca said:
Measures will be adopted. I’m sure it will be a peaceful event. These include 60 stewards from United, extra fencing, a central meeting point and a bus to the stadium. Police officers will be as low key as possible.