Manchester United welcome AC Milan to Old Trafford on Thursday evening as their hotly-anticipated Europa League last 16 tie begins.
It’s only 11 years since this was a Champions League knockout match – and 14 since it was a semi-final – with both sides suffering dips since their 00s heydays.
But the signs are both are on the up again, with Milan still fighting for the Serie A title despite a mini slump and United second in the Premier League having ended Manchester City’s 21-match winning streak at the weekend.
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So who are journalists from Eurosport Italy and Eurosport UK backing to emerge victorious from the tie? (Advance warning: if you're a Milan fan, this one isn't for you)
Simone Pace (Italy): Manchester United
It's not a good time for AC Milan. Rossoneri won their last Serie A match against Hellas Verona but they have several injured players. Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hakan Calhanoglu, Theo Hernandez, Ante Rebic, Ismael Bennacer and Mario Mandzukic, beating Manchester United and qualifying for the quarter-finals will be very complicated.
The first leg at Old Trafford will be decisive. If AC Milan get a good result - a draw or not too heavy a defeat - they will have a chance at the San Siro next week. Otherwise qualification will be nearly impossible. Whatever happens, challenging United is a great opportunity for a young Milan team to grow. It's a sort of crash test.
Pete Sharland (UK): Manchester United
If these two teams had played in the group stages I would have said that Milan are firm favourites.
However, given their respective form and players that will be missing, it’s hard to look past Manchester United for the first leg at least. Milan may have a chance in the second leg depending on who they get back and what the first leg scoreline is, but United have to use the first leg as a chance to put the tie to bed. Milan’s best hope is to sit tight and look to the counter.
Kakà (AC Milan) face à Manchester United en 2007
Image credit: Getty Images
Matteo Zorzoli (Italy): Manchester United
For AC Milan, without Ibrahimovic, Rebic, Calhanoglu, Hernandez and Bennacer, the trip to Old Trafford is mission impossible.
However, for Rossoneri the double challenge against the Red Devils can be an important test to see if they are ready to return to Champions League from next season (they've been missing since 2013). The mental approach and managing the key moments will be crucial not so much for the result, but to increase the experience of a very young group.
Alexander Netherton (UK): Manchester United
Manchester United have a lot in common with AC Milan this season. Both are second in the league, but are comfortably behind their city rivals in the chase for their domestic title. They also have plenty of weaknesses, but just as City are clearly the superior side to Inter, so United are to Milan.
United should beat Milan given they are more or less at full strength, but the inconsistency at both sides mean that even though United are favourites, nobody would be surprised if Milan manage to beat them home and away. Still, I predict United to go through 3-2 on aggregate.
2009-2010 Manchester United-Milan David Beckham Wayne Rooney
Image credit: Reuters
Ben Snowball (UK): Manchester United
It’s hard to look beyond United. Even if Milan stay in the tie at Old Trafford, United’s away record is so impressive that you would fancy them to score at least one away goal.
Milan needed this tie to come a few weeks earlier. Not only might they have had key players fit, but United were also in an iffy spell. But just as their momentum looked to have vanished, United turned up at Manchester City and ended their 21-game winning run on their own turf. Confidence will be flowing through United as a result and if they take a lead to the San Siro, it’s not hard to see them picking off Milan on the counter.
Manchester United 5-0 AC Milan. Oh.
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Follow United v Milan LIVE on Eurosport UK on Thursday evening, with kick-off at 17:55.
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