Leonardo wants balanced performance

AC Milan coach Leonardo is hopeful his team will find the right

balance between attack and defense in its Champions League match

against Manchester United on Tuesday.

Milan has received a number of plaudits this season for its

attacking play, but much of its success has been built on the

defensive partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva.

Nesta returned to action in Milan’s 3-2 win over Udinese on

Friday night following a month out with a hamstring strain, but

there are concerns over Silva, who limped off with a groin problem.

“We have 180 minutes to decide this tie,” Leonardo told

reporters. “One of our objectives is to not concede a goal, but

Manchester United is a team that always attacks. We have to get the

balance right between not conceding a goal and attacking.”

The last time the two sides met at the San Siro was 2007.

Milan won convincingly 3-0 in the semifinal second leg en route to

a victory over Liverpool in the final.

“The two teams know each other well,” Leonardo said. “Not

only because of the recent matches between us, but because we are

continually studying each other. I think I know Manchester United.

“Ferguson’s team is coming back from a tricky period,” he

said. “There are players that are slowly coming back from injury

but it is a united squad. Even so Milan has the characteristics to

perform well.”

Milan’s win on Friday ended a four match run without a win.

Manchester United by contrast is on a run of eight league games

without loss.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar is likely to start between Alexandre Pato

and Ronaldinho in an attacking trident after Marco Borriello was

ruled out with a back injury.

Pato returned from a thigh injury to play for the first time

in two months in Friday’s match and scored his eighth goal of the

season in front of United manager Alex Ferguson.

“We are a good team, with a lot of excellent players,” Pato

said. “We know that we have to do everything possible to win this

match and follow the coach’s plan. We are aiming to win this game.”

Striker Wayne Rooney has been the catalyst for much of

United’s success this season and is currently the Premier League’s

leading scorer with 21 goals. However, he does not expect a

one-sided game.

“They have Pirlo and Becks (David Beckham), some great

players,” he said. “Ronaldinho is a special player, too. He’s

unbelievable when he’s on form. We’ll need to be at our best to

beat them.

“For me, (Clarence) Seedorf is probably the best player I’ve

ever played against,” Rooney said. “When we played Milan at the San

Siro a few years ago, he was unbelievable.”