Italy v England - Key Match-Ups: Inter v Manchester United

The Italian and English champions face-off in arguably the most eagerly anticipated tie of the Champions League round of 16...
Every great football match is comprised of not only team effort but also some great individual battles. Tuesday evening, when Inter host Manchester United in a potentially explosive European encounter, will be no different. Great players, great coaches and plenty of subplots surround this unique occasion at the San Siro...

Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Cristiano Ronaldo

I just had to start with this individual competition because each player is a symbol of offensive talent in their squad. Some believe that the ‘Super Swede’ is the heir to Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or, but the Portuguese will be keen to point out that for now the prize remains at his residence.

Both of these players are capable of stunning displays of football and can transform a match at any time. Let’s just hope they don’t get caught trying to outdo one another as both have insatiable egos.

Who do you think is better? Click here to read’s Sulmaan Ahmad’s debate on the topic and have your say.

Esteban Cambiasso v Michael Carrick

The Argentine has been in impressive form in 2009 and why Diego Maradona continues to ignore him is anyone’s guess. Certainly, Cambiasso will not ignore Manchester United’s players as he tirelessly works to intercept loose passes and dispossess the English side of the ball.

Of course, his opposite in the deep lying midfield role, Carrick, will be hoping to set the tempo of the match and control proceedings against the Nerazzurri.

Maicon v Patrice Evra

These two players are both excellent in their positioning and ability to push the ball up the field. They are likely to have several direct confrontations as they will be on the same side of the park. Whoever gets the upper hand in this battle by pinning the opposite full-back into a defensive role will help their team immensely.

Christian Chivu v Wayne Rooney

With Walter Samuel certain to miss out, the task of trying to edge out bulldog Wayne Rooney will fall to the Romania captain. Rooney represents power and strength but Chivu is more about finesse and placement.

However, that is not to say either is close to being one-dimensional; Chivu can commit a crunching tackle and Rooney can come up with some silky footwork on occasion. It will be interesting to see which of these accomplished stars will be in better form on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho v Sir Alex Ferguson

‘The Special One’ has had the upper hand on the ex-Aberdeen tactician so far in his career, losing only once to the Scottish manager in 12 attempts. However, the Nerazzurri boss was keen to point out that those were the achievements of Porto and Chelsea, aware that this is a whole new matter in itself.

Arguably, these men are among the top five coaches worldwide and have two of Europe’s best squads at their disposal. Tactically this will be a very tight battle – the question is who has the ace up their sleeve – the wily veteran Sir Alex or the meticulous Mourinho?

Other Key Players

Midfielders Ryan Giggs and Javier Zanetti both started the last time Inter and Manchester United met in the Champions League, ten long years ago. The Red Devils went on to win the competition on that occasion, which was part of their treble winning season of 1999. Zanetti has constantly voiced his desire over the years to be drawn against them again and now he has his wish. Will the Argentine get his revenge or will the Welsh wizard add another victory to his long list of achievements?

Manchester United finally conceded a goal on Saturday evening as Blackburn Rovers ended United’s clean sheet record of 1,337 goal-free Premier League minutes. But Edwin van der Sar, who sat that game out,  could return in midweek and his form has been exceptional of late. With an abundance of offensive ability involved, both he and Julio Cesar will likely be called into some spectacular actions during the match. Meanwhile, Dejan Stankovic is fully capable of helping out the offence with a sublime pass or by making a late run - the same goes for Paul Scholes (should he play).

Of course, there are several others who could have an impact and only by Tuesday will we know which of them ends up on top and who was an unfortunate flop.

Who will come out on top on Tuesday? Inter or Manchester United? Which players will make a difference? Who will fail to shine? wants to know what YOU think...

Adam Scime,