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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Countdown to AC Milan v Man Utd

AC Milan's Kaka (left) and Ronaldo
Kaka of AC Milan (left) and Man Utd's Ronaldo could play a key role
Manchester United take a slender 3-2 lead into Wednesday's Champions League semi-final, second leg against AC Milan at the San Siro.

Manchester United centre-halves Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have travelled after recovering from collarbone and groin injuries respectively, but are not certain to start.

Veteran defender Paolo Maldini is a major doubt for Milan after injuring his knee in the first leg, but midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is fit.

Text us with your thoughts on the match or join in the debate on 606.

BIG MATCH BUILD-UP (ALL TIMES BST)

606: DEBATE

By Caroline Cheese

1834: Right then, like the Milan players, I'm off for a snack before the big game. You'll need to follow the link below to continue following the build-up and then the game itself.

1828: Big news from AC Milan's official website: "The Milan players have just left their rooms after a rest. After a snack, there will be a team talk and the squad will leave for the San Siro Stadium at 18.40." You just don't get that sort of insight from English football websites, do you?

"I'm stuck in work with no TV. I may have to resign and go to the pub for this game. Go Reds!"
Paul, via text

"Pub is beginning to fill here in Trafford. If we go through, the roof may blow off! 2-1 United!"
via text on 81111

1749: BBC News 24's Olly Foster is with some United fans in Milan. Are they worried about United's shaky defence? "Whatever they score we'll score more," replies one. "If they score three, we'll score four. Simple as that."

"United will start with this team, I reckon: Van der Sar, Fletcher, Vidic, Brown, Heinze, Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney, Smith."
from 606

1730: It's confession time on 606: "I'm missing the game tonight because I am going to the cinema with a ladyfriend." Firstly, surely even a girl would understand the importance of a Champions League semi-final? Secondly, ladyfriend??

"I'd like to see Darren Fletcher try to mark Kaka out of the game. I know Milan have other threats, but Kaka is the one that could really get behind our defence."
from 606

"Some of the locals look a bit bemused with all the street activity. The noise has subsided now and most of the locals are scurrying home from work and shopping to get ready to watch the match on television. I've just heard one set of United fans asking a waiter if he supports AC Milan, Internazionale or Manchester United. He very wisely responded by saying he wasn't a big calcio fan. There are plenty of police around now, but they are keeping it very low key and letting the fans march on towards the next city square."
Howard Nurse, BBC Sport website football editor, Milan

1702: Let's not forget that we have three players walking the proverbial tightrope this evening. Gabriel Heinze, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes will miss the final if United go through and they are booked. For what it's worth, bookies Ladbrokes make Heinze and Scholes 7/4 to see yellow, with Ronaldo on 5/2.

"United fans are making themselves heard now. They're on the move from the city centre walking down Via Dante towards the tramstops for the San Siro. It's definitely not raining although the sparrows are trying to nibble my pizza!"
Howard Nurse, BBC Sport website football editor, Milan

1650: BBC Radio Manchester has some worrying news for United fans. If Sir Alex Ferguson's team get through tonight, their supporters may have to pay up to 1,000 for a direct flight to Athens for the final. The best alternative? Drive to London, fly from London to Tirana in Albania or Sofia in Bulgaria, then drive to Athens. Sorted.

"This one is too evenly poised. Tonight is about team performance, United can attack like no other in Europe and AC have the strength to stop it. I think AC can win this 1-0, maybe 2-1, but United are good for goals, and after the weekend can never be counted out."
from 606

1628: BBC News 24's man in Milan reports that the atmosphere in the city centre is pretty peaceful - although he's finding it hard to make himself heard above the chanting of a large group of United fans.

"We're in full United kit in the city centre. Can't wait for the game. Time for a bit of streaking."
Doyler and Max, via text

1616: It's still raining a bit in Milan, reports AC Milan's official website. But panic not, as the report continues: "The drainage system at the San Siro is excellent as it demonstrated back in November 2002 ahead of Milan against Real Madrid." Was anyone at the San Siro in 2002 when the stadium's drainage system played such a starring role? Why not text us your drainage system memories on 81111?

"Inzaghi will unsettle the United defence. The guy has no ball skills, and he falls about a lot, but he always scores winning goals or create space for others. Annoying, but deadly."
from 606

1604: So our man Howard Nurse reckons both Vidic and Ferdinand could start for United tonight. Don't forget you can pick the team on BBC Sport's Squad Selector then send your ideas to Fergie (providing you've got his email address).

1550: Ben Dirs has left the building so I'm taking over countdown duty. You can expect much less chat about Kaka's missus from now on and much more about the lovely Brazilian himself.

By Ben Dirs

"I can't wait to get to the San Siro. It's my first visit to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, to give the stadium its official name. Still no word on whether Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will be fit, though I understand Rio is the more likely to start. Wouldn't surprise me if they both play. Time for me to go sample some local pizza before tackling the tram system!"
Howard Nurse, BBC Sport website football editor, Milan

"You don't get olives with your Peroni in Manchester!" Sir Alan via text

"I'm in the Xmpie Bar in Milan and both sets of supporters are creating a great atmosphere - can't wait for kick-off." John and Tim, Leeds, via text

"There's not that big a police presence in the city centre, just a few riot police. There are 300-400 Man Utd fans singing away, separated from the Milanese fans by a couple of dozen riot police, with the Milanese taking photos of them on phones. Either the alcohol ban isn't working, or beer is exempt. But the mood is good, and I'm told by the fans it's very different from Rome."
BBC Radio Five Live's Stephen Chittenden

"The '99 United have three players I'd take now - Schmeichel, Stam, Becks. I'd probably have '99 Giggs and '07 Neville, with six of current side. So about even." Gareth from Glasgow via text

"Is it just me, or does Gattuso look like Captain Caveman?" Via text

"Ron is unplayable. If they put three men on him, then they leave Scholes to open their defence and Roo will punish them at will." From 606

1514: Not sure what they're up to on Greater Manchester Radio, but I just dipped in and there's a reporter talking to some Milanese fashion designer about metallic eel-skin slip-on shoes. I didn't catch the name of the shop, but I'm pretty sure they don't have Freeman, Hardy and Willis in Milan.

"There's a simple method to sort out Gattuso - get our resident hardman on him, ALAN SMITH." From 606

1505: Sorry folks, we've got a bit of a problem with our text machine at the moment - whenever I click on the link, it says it's got a "broken pipe". Which I assume is technical jargon for "I'm @*&$@ed". I'll go and have a rustle around in 606 and see what I can come up with...

"In Bar Magenta in Milan city centre and it's all good. Let it rain, as that's what our boys love and there'll be a shower of goals from the lads from OT." Via text

1445: Our football editor has rocked up in Milan city centre (see below). He has given the old Peroni a wide berth and is getting stuck into a bit of local culture - he tells me Milan's a bit like Kettering.

"The rain has stopped and the sun is almost out. Central Milan is getting busy with fans from both teams, though the locals appear to be more in abundance. It's designer labels and high fashion everywhere. Well, maybe less so from the UK. Plenty of scarves and other paraphernalia specially made for this cup tie.

"I've just been inside the magnificent Il Duomo di Milano, which is the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Pretty awesome, just a shame the outside is getting a facelift and is half-covered in scaffold."
Howard Nurse, BBC Sport website football editor in Milan

1438: Andy Cole was just asked on TV whether he reckons his treble-winning side of 1999 would beat the current side. He said: "I dunno". Who do you reckon would win?

"I've failed my driving test today. All I can hope for to cheer me up is a Man Utd loss. Come on Milan!" Dave N, Liverpool, via text

1419: Anyone seen Kaka's wife? Funnily enough, she's a complete sort. She's the sort of woman who, if she looked you in the eye in a bar and asked you where the fag machine was, you'd start giggling and snort. Any United fans roaming around Milan, send us your texts and make us all jealous.

"I see two things we must do to win: 1. Tie up Kaka (literally, and leave him in a garden shed somewhere). 2. Get round Gattuso, as he was very effective in breaking up our attacks in the first game." From 606

"Come on United, let's show Europe what we are made of and ensure we are involved in one of greatest finals of all time."
Paul T via text

1407: As an idle aside, do you reckon Berbatov will end up at Old Trafford this summer? As a kid who used to mince around in the centre circle with his shirt hanging out attempting lavish 40-yard passes, I like the fact he looks like he doesn't really give a monkey's. Like Glenn Hoddle, except with baggier shorts.

"None of the United players is good enough to be in the Milan first 11. Apart from maybe Scholes, who might be able to make the squad and warm the bench..." From 606

"Ronaldo will be the star at the San Siro tonight. And I'm not talking about the fat Brazilian!" Rahulio in Milan, via text

"If it's raining in Milan that's a good sign - it'll just be like playing in Manchester, the city where it always rains...Come on United!" Mo via text

1341: The rain seems to have dried up in Milan, it's filling out in the city centre and United and Milan fans seem to be mingling pretty freely. Looks like the local constabulary are more Dixon of Dock Green than DI Regan - Rome police take note.

"In Milan at the moment, soaking up the atmosphere with loads of United fans. Come on United!" From AJ and Latty via text to 81111.

"We're in a place in Milan called Fouberto Placento. We need to keep Gattuso quiet tonight. Come on you Reds!" From Jag in Milan via text to 81111.

"We're in the Bar Rubin, somewhere in Milan (I don't know where!). United fans everywhere, the atmosphere is great and we're confident for tonight." Si & Dan, via text to 81111 from Milan.

If you are in Milan ahead of the game, text us to let us know what the atmosphere in the city is like.

"Attack, attack, attack! If they score two we'll get three. Come on United from all your support in Northern Ireland!" Via text.

"If Gattuso is on form tonight, I think he could pose more of a threat to United's chances than Kaka." From 606.

"There is an all-day drinking ban here in Milan although that is being observed more strictly in some areas than others."
BBC Radio Five Live's Stephen Chittenden

"Fair enough, Ronaldo has turned it on big time this season, but without his amazing season, what exactly does the rest of your squad provide attackingly? Ryan Giggs down the wing collecting his pension, Carrick and Fletcher, who love to go sideways, and the the odd flash from Rooney or Scholes." From 606

"There is always an anxiety about big occasions. You hope everything works out the way you want it to. But I sleep okay, knowing I have a team that is confident, that will run to the last minute - and have a go." Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson

1225: I've just been leafing through the Milan pen pics, and I've realised Serginho looks like Mmoloki Chrystie, AKA Kevin Baylon from Grange Hill circa mid-80s. Not much else to report - still bucketing down in Milan, it looks like it's going to be an ice rink in the San Siro.

"Kaka is an outstanding talent. We saw that in the first leg and we will have to be on top form to stop him. But if we concentrate too much on him, the other Milan players will take advantage, so we have to find a balance." United defender John O'Shea

"If Milan managed to score two goals at Old Trafford playing defensively, just imagine how many they might score at home playing attacking football." From 606

1210: If I was in Milan at the moment, rather than an office that smells of Kitekat and Haile Gebrselassie's sneakers, I think I'd be tucking into a breaded veal chop with some steamed vegetables and a nice Pino Grigio. Saying that, it would have to be inside - I've just seen the poor reporter on Sky and it's absolutely lobbing it down at the San Siro, the poor man is trussed up like Jacques Cousteau.

1154: I've got a horrible feeling that if United do do the business tonight, Scholes won't be on the pitch in Athens. He may well be the best player England have produced for the last 15 years, but he has all the tackling ability of a granny on roller skates.

"As a Liverpool fan, I really hope United do the business tonight and set up one of the greatest finals ever. You certainly have the drive." Dave, Blackpool, via text

"Man-marking Kaka pulls one of our players out of the game. We should worry about playing our own game, let them worry about us scoring instead. Come on Utd!" Carl via text

1140: If there is anyone in Milan at the moment, getting stuck into the sauce, sticking away some fine Italian cuisine, or generally mincing about talking a load of old rubbish with your mates, text us on 81111 and tell us what the atmosphere's like.

"People are severely overrating AC Milan. Our defence may not be at its strongest but their defence is old and ultimately slow, which Rooney, Giggs and Ronaldo will exploit. Milan have Kaka, we have those three - I know who my money's on." From 606

1113: We still don't know whether Ferdinand and Vidic will be stepping out tonight. If neither of them plays, that's United stuffed - right?

"Let's hope the ref doesn't go card crazy! Scholesy and Ronaldo are walking the ban tightrope and we need the big players for the final. Let someone else kick Kaka!" Ade via text

1102: Bit of betting chat from William Hill: AC Milan 6/5 Draw 21/10 Man Utd 15/8. Rooney to score first is 8/1, Ronaldo to score first is 9/1, although Kaka and Inzaghi are 7.5/1. Personally, I might have a little flutter on Scholesy at 13s.

"There is a definite advantage to man-marking Kaka. If Man Utd take him out of the equation, the chances of a clean-sheet rise greatly! Come on Utd!" YM via text

"The key to the game will be whether Kaka has a good game or not - with United's defensive worries and Rio and Vidic not fully fit, I can't see United holding out against their attack." From 606

"I expect a big performance from Scholesy and also expect Rooney to step up again! Will be a very interesting one and let's hope we can do it! COME ON UNITED!" From 606

TEAM NEWS AHEAD OF 1945 BST KICK-OFF

AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso will be available but defender Paolo Maldini is a major doubt.

Maldini, 38, is hoping to reach his eighth final in the competition but sustained a knee injury in the first leg of the tie.

Kakhabar Kaladze and Daniele Bonera are the favourites to replace Maldini in defence alongside Alessandro Nesta.

Manchester United centre-halves Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are fit after recovering from collarbone and groin injuries.

Patrice Evra is suspended but Sir Alex Ferguson says he is "nowhere near making a decision" on whether Vidic or Ferdinand, or both, should play.

Louis Saha could be on the bench, despite his recent hamstring problems, but Gary Neville misses out again.

Gabriel Heinze, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes are all one booking away from a ban that would rule them out of the final, should United progress.

Man Utd (from): Van der Sar, Kuszczak, O'Shea, Fletcher, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze, Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Richardson, Eagles, Saha, Smith, Solskjaer, Rooney, Dong.

SEE ALSO
Win FA Cup final tickets
30 Apr 07 |  Inside Sport
AC Milan v Man Utd
02 May 07 |  Europe
Leonardo says Milan will attack
01 May 07 |  Europe
Man Utd 3-2 AC Milan
24 Apr 07 |  Europe


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