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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Man United, Roma set to renew rivalry

Man United, Roma set to renew rivalry

April 01, 2008 09:53 IST

AS Roma will be without injured captain Francesco Totti when they take on Manchester United in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Serie A club said on Sunday that the striker needs rest because of a thigh muscle injury he felt after Saturday's 1-1 draw at Cagliari, when he scored his side's equalizer.

The loss of Roma's main creative force and their top scorer in Serie A this term with 14 goals is a big blow to Italy's sole Champions League survivor.

The hosts are also without suspended Italy midfielder Simone Perrotta, while Brazilian defender Juan is a doubt because of a foot problem.

United, the Premier League leaders, are in fine fettle after thrashing Aston Villa 4-0 on Saturday with Cristiano Ronaldo inspirational again and scorer of a delightful back-heeled goal.

Wayne Rooney also scored twice to end a six-game run without a goal, leading manager Alex Ferguson to declare that his side have "reached a peak" and stir fears among Roma fans of a repetition of the 7-1 drubbing they suffered at Old Trafford at this stage last season having won the first leg 2-1.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, however, believes his side will show they have come a long way since that debacle.

"Games like this one against Manchester bring out the best in us," he told reporters. "We need to be careful and try not to concede but in order to do it we have to be strong and have total faith. We need to do everything and more."

Roma were a different prospect in the group-stage clashes between the sides this season, when they were unlucky to lose 1-0 away and held United 1-1 in the Italian capital.

The 4-2 aggregate win over nine-times European champions Real Madrid in the first knockout round was further proof of growing maturity.

Spalletti can also take comfort from some solid recent displays by Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic, who will be called on to lead the attack in Totti's absence.

United regulars Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs came off with knocks against Villa, although Ferguson said he was hopeful they would be fit for Tuesday.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is a bigger worry after missing Saturday's game with a groin problem.

"Edwin van der Sar may be a doubt for Tuesday," Ferguson told the club's Web site (

"He's got a groin problem again, it's happened two or three times in the last few weeks. We'll see how he is over the next few days."

United's fans have been told to be on their best behaviour and to use a shuttle service to reach the ground to avoid a recurrence of the clashes and knife attacks that marred both of the previous games between the teams at the Stadio Olimpico.

Probable teams:

AS Roma: 32-Doni; 77-Marco Cassetti, 2-Christian Panucci, 5-Philippe Mexes, 22-Max Tonetto; 11-Taddei, 8-Alberto Aquilani, 16-Daniele De Rossi, 30 Mancini, 14-Ludovic Giuly; 9-Mirko Vucinic.

Manchester United: 1-Edwin van der Sar; 6-Wes Brown, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 15-Nemanja Vidic, 3-Patrice Evra; 18-Paul Scholes, 4-Owen Hargreaves, 8-Anderson; 7-Cristiano Ronaldo, 10-Wayne Rooney, 11-Ryan Giggs.

Referee: Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)

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