Serious San Siro
The tests get bigger and bigger and in fairness Manchester United continue to rise to meet them head on. (Especially Dwight Yorke if you follow me.) Inter Milan have not lost at home in European competition for 36 years – Man Utd have never won in Italy. This St Patrick’s Day matchup with a semi final berth in the European Champions League at stake is as eagerly awaited a contest as I can remember since last weeks games.
But seriously, folks, it’s huge. You might say Serious San Siro Stadium. Fergie looked for and got a serious good referee. It’s hard not to give a penalty kick sometimes. Fergie looked for and got a serious team selection and attitude. Serious confidence that they could do it this year. Fergie looked for and got a serious substitute Scholes. A serious series win 3-1 on aggregate and a serious semi final to look forward to. United rode their luck throughout the two legs and basically worked hard for each other with a growing conviction that this will be their year. They can do it this year although I suspect that they will have to play at least as well as the first leg on this occasion. They are now the serious 2-1 favourites to win the trophy outright notwithstanding the fact that Dynamo Kiev, Bayern Munich and Juventus will seriously fancy their own chances. Would you believe that Man Utd odds to win all three – the Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup – are only 11-1. Inter Milan played well over both games but couldn’t convert any chances. Baggio is not Baggio any more and Ronaldo has a way to go yet before he is Ronaldo again. On balance they deserved to exit at this point and let Juventus carry the flag for Italy.
Bayern Munich won the German battle rather too easily eliminating Kaiserlautern in a no contest, 6-0 aggregate while Dynamo Kiev played a wonderful tactical second leg making Real Madrid work very hard for nothing. Dynamo played a great passing game and deservedly knocked out the holders. They not only looked good but now have a real (sorry Madrid fans) chance of becoming the first team from the Ukraine to be crowned Champions of Europe. They possess one other ingredient which could see them lift the trophy – a player capable of winning a game single handedly who is currently not overpaid. I am sure Andriy Shevchenko will not ply his trade in the Ukraine much beyond the final on May 26th. Go west young man springs to mind. Juventus kept the Italians hopes alive. They’ve been there before and get to fight another day. They did scare their fans and faced exit with five minutes to go, courtesy of the dreaded away goal rule. Can they make it four finals in a row? As of today for the big one, Juve are second favourites at 5-2, with Bayern at 11-4 and Dynamo Kiev at 100-30.
The draw goes Friday and will impact same.