The Champions League will restart next week and one of the more tantalizing second round ties has got to be Italian giants AC Milan against English powerhouse Arsenal.
It is the kind of match up we like to see – the young dogs up against the old guard. Energy and youthful exuberance against experience and class.
Interestingly, Milan and Arsenal have only met once before and that was 14 years ago in the European Super Cup competition (now UEFA Super Cup). The match ended 2-0 on aggregate, in Milan’s favor.
However, what is more interesting is the fact that Maldini played in that match 14 years ago! This gives you an idea how old the Milan squad is. Of the eleven Milan first team regulars, only two are below 30 years of age – Kaka’ and Pirlo. On the other hand, the situation in Arsenal is entirely reversed. They have only two players 30 and above – Gallas and Almunia.
This underlies the tremendous age differences in the two teams and there are two schools of thought stemming from this. One is that Arsenal’s youth and exuberance will triumph over Milan. They are young and will be too quick and too fit for Milan to handle. The other school of thought, however, believes that Milan’s class and experience will see them through. Compared to the youngsters of Arsenal, this is a situation they have been through countless of times and they will know how to cope with the pressure.
The 1st leg of this match will be held at the Emirates Stadium on February 20th and the second leg will take place on March 4th at the San Siro. This means that Milan will have the luxury of playing the second game at home and therefore, it will not surprise me if they played the first leg safe and then go all guns blazing in the second. This advantage, albeit a slight one, could prove crucial.
Even so, as a Rossoneri, I feel that this match is too close to call. However, it must be noted that Milan’s match up with Arsenal, closely resembles that of last season’s semi-final match up with Manchester United. Then, many believed that the pace of Manchester duo Ronaldo and Rooney will be too much for the aging Milan defence to handle, but Milan prevailed in the end. And not only did they prevail, but in the process, also handed Manchester United one of their biggest and most complete defeats in recent times with a resounding 3-0 victory at the San Siro.
Will we see history repeat itself? We shall see.
The author Kenny maintains a personal blog called ‘The Meditation Chamber‘.
If you’re planning on heading to Milan for the second leg on 4 March, click here to help make your planning a lot easier.
Go back to the full 16-team 2007/2008 UEFA Champions League 2nd Round Preview on Soccerlens.