Clarence Seedorf, left, eluding Owen Hargreaves of Bayern. Seedorf scored as AC Milan outwitted Munich and won, 2-0. (Christof Stache/The Associated Press)
So, after nine months of endeavor across Europe, the Champions League has come down to this: AC Milan against the English.
Preying on Bayern Munich errors, picking the pockets of Germany’s powerhouse with two goals in four minutes in Munich’s own backyard Wednesday, Milan, won, somewhat comfortably, 2-0. Its 4-2 aggregate victory gave it the right to represent the rest of the continent in a tournament that has turned very English.
Milan travels to Manchester on April 24, with the second leg at the San Siro on May 2. It will be a semifinal of Italian guile against the pace of United’s youth.
The other semi is a repeat of 2005, when Chelsea and Liverpool cancelled one another out in stubborn defensiveness until a late, controversial goal put Liverpool through.
The semis also pit three exponents of pragmatic defending against one team, United, that attacks with breathtaking, exhilarating speed.
Do not think for one moment that Milan will allow Manchester to destroy its defense as United did in putting seven goals past Roma this week.
Milan’s coach Carlo Ancelotti was not born a Roman, but he played there for almost a decade and captained Roma up to 1987. His first thoughts after Wednesday turned to the “mission” to represent Italian soccer.
The manner of Milan’s victory was typical. It absorbed Bayern’s muscular but unimaginative thrusts. Then Clarence Seedorf and the inevitable Filippo Inzaghi scored in the space of four minutes. Game over. Read the rest of this entry »