United aim to bury Mourinho jinx
Paris, March 10:
The champions of the world, of Europe and of England ardently believe they can achieve their dream of an unprecedented sweep of five trophies this season. But to rule the continental roost and retain the Champions League Manchester United must first bury the man who has a better record against them than most.
Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan may have struggled to contain United’s attacking instincts in their goalless round of 16 first leg at San Siro, but if anyone has the Mancunians’ number it is the former Chelsea boss.
The momentum should be with United, top of the English Premiership, the League Cup and the World Club Championship locked in the Old Trafford trophy cabinet, an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to and a home return with Inter to look forward to Wednesday at the Theatre of Dreams.
As United boss Alex Ferguson well knows, however, jousting with Mourinho can be the stuff of nightmares. The Scot does not have fond memories of his Portuguese counterpart’s first Champions League visit to Old Trafford which saw Porto edge through at this same first knockout stage in 2004 before going on to win the competition.
Mourinho’s ambitions to do the same with Chelsea were twice thwarted by Liverpool — but he has a good record in Manchester with just one loss in five visits for his only defeat at Ferguson’s hands in 13 meetings.
Even so, that statistic cannot disguise the fact the force is very much with United on the Red Devils’ current form. The holders have not lost in 18 home Champions League matches at Old Trafford and are undefeated in a record 20 competition outings, while Inter are short of defensive numbers after defender Cristian Chivu was ruled out with a thigh injury.
Marco Materazzi and Nicolas Burdisso are also struggling after missing Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Genoa.
Barcelona will expect to polish off French Lyon at the Nou Camp having secured a 1-1 draw in France courtesy of Thierry Henry.
•Barcelona vs Lyon (first leg 1-1)
•Manchester United vs Inter Milan (first leg 0-0)
•Roma vs Arsenal (first leg 0-1)
•Porto vs Atletico Madrid (first leg 2-2)