AC Milan v United: Our guide to the game
After playing pre-season games overseas in Perth, Singapore, Shanghai and Norway, Manchester United are back on British soil for a clash with AC Milan in Cardiff on Saturday.
Our sixth outing of the summer will be a good test for the Reds, ahead of our first Premier League fixture of 2019/20 next weekend, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will embark on his first full campaign as manager.
The meeting with Milan at the Principality Stadium will also be our third and final match in the International Champions Cup (ICC). The Reds have won both of our games in the competition so far, defeating Inter Milan 1-0 on 20 July and seeing off Tottenham 2-1 last week.
If United manage to beat the Rossoneri by a margin of three goals or more, we'll win the ICC for a second time, having first claimed the exhibition trophy in 2014. Anything less and Benfica, who claimed a 1-0 victory against Milan on Sunday, will be champions.
Here’s the essential info you'll need for this game…
HOW CAN I GET TICKETS?
IF I'M GOING TO THE GAME, IS THERE ANYTHING I NEED TO KNOW?
Supporters who have tickets for the match are advised to get to the stadium early, due to enhanced security checks at the gates and an expected crowd in excess of 60,000 fans. Gates will open at 14:30 BST and all bags will be searched upon entrance to the ground. There will be separate lines for bag searches which will be signposted, but please be aware you will need to allow more time if you bring a bag. Fans are advised to make sure you know where your gate is and allow time to get there, as not all gates face the city centre.
WILL IT BE SHOWN ON MUTV?
Yes, the friendly match in South Wales, which will kick off at 17:36 BST on Saturday, will be shown live on MUTV.
HAVE WE PLAYED AT THE PRINCIPALITY STADIUM BEFORE?
Fans may know the stadium more commonly as the Millennium Stadium, where the Reds have played eight times before, winning three, drawing two and losing three of those previous matches. Interestingly, all of our victories at the ground have been by at least a three-goal margin, with our biggest win coming on the last visit when the Reds thumped Wigan Athletic 4-0 in the 2006 League Cup final. Of course, we have played elsewhere in the Welsh capital more recently and it was certainly a memorable occasion - United eased to a 5-1 win over Cardiff City last December in Solskjaer’s first game in charge.
WHAT'S THE STADIUM LIKE?
The multi-purpose venue is the national stadium of Wales and can seat up to 74,500 spectators. It’s the home of the Wales rugby union team and has also hosted matches for the Wales national football team. It was opened in June 1999 and was initially built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup. It has hosted a number of events including music concerts, the Speedway Grand Prix and the 2017 Champions League final, when Real Madrid beat Juventus 4-1. While Wembley Stadium was being re-developed in the early 2000s, the stadium also staged six FA Cup finals – including the Reds’ 3-0 win over Millwall in 2004.
WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP?
The ICC is an international pre-season tournament which pits some of the best teams in the world together, in some of the globe’s most impressive stadiums. The competition’s format has altered over the years but in 2019, 12 teams are competing in the event, with each playing three matches in multiple venues throughout the world. This year, the tournament has been staged across Europe, Asia and the United States of America and the winners are the side which finishes top of the 12-team group. Benfica and United are the only two teams still in with a chance of first position going into Saturday's game. It's worth nothing that all games in the ICC which end in a draw are decided by a penalty shootout, with teams awarded two points for a win on penalties and one point for a shootout defeat.
WHO ELSE IS PLAYING?
United have been joined in the tournament this year by Premier League rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, while the country providing the most clubs is Italy – Serie A is represented by Inter Milan, Juventus and Roma as well as our opponents AC Milan. The other teams taking part are Bayern Munich, Benfica, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, while Mexican outfit Guadalajara are the only non-European club in the competition.
WHAT'S OUR RECORD IN THE ICC LIKE?
This is the sixth time we have competed in the tournament. The Reds were crowned the winners in 2014, beating Liverpool in the final after overcoming Inter Milan, Roma and Real Madrid in the group stage. The following year, United finished third out of the 10 teams competing in the North America and Europe section, while in 2016, our game against rivals Manchester City in China had to be cancelled due to extreme weather. Last summer, the Reds won two out of three games, beating AC Milan on penalties and then Real Madrid 2-1, before losing to Liverpool.
WHO ARE AC MILAN?
Second only to Real Madrid in terms of European Cup wins with their seven triumphs, and Italy’s most successful club after Juventus, the San Siro outfit need little introduction. The club was founded by two Englishmen in 1899 as the Milan Football and Cricket Club, and although it soon lost its association with the latter sport, the anglicised name remains. Whereas other football clubs like Torino (Turin) and Napoli (Naples) are known by the Italian names for their respective cities, the Rossoneri (red and blacks) remain known as Milan, rather than Milano. Their triumphs have not been quite as regular during the last decade – local rivals Internazionale dominated the late 2000s, before Juventus took over in the current decade – but they remain a force to be respected.
HOW DID AC MILAN GET ON LAST SEASON?
Milan missed out on Champions League qualification after finishing fifth in Serie A – a solitary point and place behind their rivals Inter Milan. The Rossoneri also suffered disappointment in the Europa League after finishing third in their group behind Real Betis and Olympiacos. As for the Coppa Italia, they reached the semi-finals but were beaten 1-0 on aggregate by Lazio over two legs. At the start of the campaign, the Serie A side lost 1-0 to Juventus in the Italian Super Cup.
WHO IS AC MILAN'S STAR MAN?
A whole host of world-class forwards have plied their trade for AC Milan over the years, and Krzysztof Piatek is the latest to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Marco van Basten, Andriy Shevchenko, Filippo Inzaghi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Polish striker signed for the San Siro club in January, after netting 13 goals in 19 games for former club Genoa. The 24-year-old, who is known as Il Pistolero, or the Gunslinger, for his goal celebration, went on to score nine times for Milan before the end of the season, finishing third in the Serie A top scorer standings, one goal ahead of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in fourth.
WHO IS THEIR MANAGER?
Marco Giampaolo is the new man in charge at AC Milan, having taken over from club legend Gennaro Gattuso, who left at the end of May after a year and a half in charge of the San Siro outfit. Giampaolo is an experienced coach in Serie A - the Swiss-born 51-year-old has managed six different clubs in the Italian top flight, including Sampdoria, who he led to ninth position last season.
WHAT’S OUR RECORD AGAINST AC MILAN LIKE?
The Reds have a mixed record against the Italian side over the years. We have won five and lost five of our previous 10 competitive games against them, with the most recent encounter being our 4-0 win at Old Trafford in the Champions League last-16 second leg in March 2010. Of course, United met Milan a year ago in pre-season in our first International Champions Cup match of the summer. Alexis Sanchez’s early opener was quickly cancelled out by former Liverpool midfielder Suso Santana as the game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, before United won 9-8 in an epic penalty shootout.
WHO ELSE HAVE WE PLAYED IN PRE-SEASON?
We have a perfect record in pre-season so far, having won five out of five games. We beat both Perth Glory and Leeds United in Western Australia by scorelines of 2-0 and 4-0 respectively before moving to Singapore, where AC Milan's rivals Inter were defeated 1-0. We then gained a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai, before edging past Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's hometown club Kristiansund 1-0 in our last outing.
HOW HAVE AC MILAN PERFORMED?
The 2019/20 Serie A season doesn't get underway until 25 August, so the Rossoneri started their pre-season later than United, with a 1-1 draw against Serie C side Novara in Carnago, Italy. AC Milan then began the ICC with a 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich in Kansas City on 24 July. A goal by former Tottenham and QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt gave Benfica victory against the Italians in Foxborough four days later, meaning Milan will finish in last place if they lose again on Saturday.
WHAT'S THE TEAM NEWS FOR UNITED?
The Reds have a 24-man squad in Cardiff, with Paul Pogba having to withdraw due to a back spasm, while Joel Pereira is training at the Aon Training Complex after tweaking his back last week. Matteo Darmian, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have also stayed behind to work on their fitness. Eric Bailly is missing too after it was confirmed earlier this week that he will be out of contention until around Christmas following an operation on a knee problem.
WHO WILL MISS OUT FOR MILAN?
Long-term absentee Mattia Caldara will miss Saturday's game as he continues to recover from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury. New signing from Real Madrid Theo Hernandez will also be absent after suffering a torn ankle ligament against Bayern. Patrick Cutrone, who came off the bench in that match a week ago, signed for Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday.
As with all of Manchester United’s pre-season games, the clash with AC Milan in Cardiff will be available to watch live on MUTV.
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