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Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

AC Milan not scared of in-form Wayne Rooney - Flamini

Champions League last 16 first leg
Venue: San Siro Date: Tuesday 16 February Kick-off: 1945 GMT Coverage: BBC Sport website, Final Score, BBC Radio 5 live and live on Sky Sports 2

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney
Rooney has gone from strength to strength this season

By David Ornstein

AC Milan star Mathieu Flamini says his side will not make special plans for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney in Tuesday's Champions League tie.

Rooney has been in inspired form this season but former Arsenal midfielder Flamini said Milan can cope with him.

"Fear is not the word. Of course we have to be careful because we know he is a great player who can score at any time," Flamini told BBC Sport.

"There are no special plans for Rooney, just to concentrate and be strong."

Rooney has scored 24 goals for club and country this season, turning in a series of superb performances along the way as United battle to hold on to their Premier League crown and reach a third consecutive Champions League final.

However, Flamini, who played against Rooney several times during his time in England's top flight with the Gunners, said Milan coach Leonardo would not make the mistake of underestimating United's other attacking talents.

"We have to focus on him but also on the rest of the team because Manchester United attack with many players," he added.

But United manager Sir Alex Ferguson could not speak highly enough of Rooney's contribution this season and believes the England striker is in the best form of his already impressive career.

"We build up heroes very quickly," stated Ferguson.

"We are peculiar because the players, like David Beckham, who come through the ranks are always viewed as better than those you buy.

"But Rooney is also regarded as that kind of player. Although he came from Everton, the fans will always look at him as one of the players who has grown up with us.

"He has been fantastic this season and, without doubt, his form this season has brought him to the high point of his career.

AC Milan Mathieu Flamini
Midfielder Flamini joined Milan from Arsenal in 2008

"World class is a misused term but with Rooney you have to say he is getting to the point where he is now one of the best players in the world."

Milan are currently third in Serie A after an indifferent recent spell of form, although they do come into the game off the back of a 3-2 win over Udinese.

Flamini said the huge amount of experience in Milan's squad - with the likes of Beckham, Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta all well into their 30s - meant that the stature of the game would not be an issue for his side.

"I prefer to say that we have a lot of experience in the team rather than we are too old," commented Flamini.

"The Champions League is completely different: Milan have won it so many times and it's a special tournament for us.

"When you're young and want to become a football player, you dream of playing in these types of games.

"We have a lot of experience and players who know how to deal with this kind of game."

For all the attacking talents set to be on show at the San Siro on Tuesday and the return leg at Old Trafford on 10 March, Flamini expects the tie to be a tight affair.

606: DEBATE
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Milan are seven-times European champions, while United have triumphed three times and Flamini added: "We are two very ambitious teams who want to go through.

"I think the most important thing is to be very strong defensively and not concede any goals. We know we can score and one goal, I'm sure, will do it.

"You have to win the battle in the middle, especially in big games."



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see also
AC Milan 2-3 Man Utd
16 Feb 10 |  Europe
Man Utd as good as 1999 - Beckham
16 Feb 10 |  Europe
Vidic stresses loyalty to Man Utd
18 Feb 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney 'on a par with Ronaldinho'
13 Feb 10 |  Man Utd
Flamini seals switch to AC Milan
05 May 08 |  Arsenal


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