Massimo Oddo has clear ideas on how to cope with Cristiano Ronaldo when AC Milan welcome Manchester United FC in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
Ronaldo was a major influence in United's 3-2 win at Old Trafford last week and Oddo often found himself head-to-head with the Portugal winger whenever he switched to the left flank. "Ronaldo is a fantastic player with his tricks and his ball control at high speed," he told uefa.com. "It's really difficult to face him because he is two-footed, so he can pass you either to the left or to the right. The only secret, if you want to call it a secret, is to attack him before he attacks you with the ball, otherwise it's almost impossible to stop him."
After Ronaldo's opening goal last week, Kaká scored twice for the Rossoneri before Wayne Rooney stole the spotlight from both by scoring two second-half goals. The 30-year-old Oddo was not surprised by Rooney's display. "
Ahead of the first leg everybody was talking about Ronaldo, but personally Rooney worried me much more. He's a quick forward who can score at any time. Last week he was not my direct opponent, because I faced [Ryan] Giggs and Ronaldo more often, but he was the one who worried me the most."
Oddo believes injuries to Paolo Maldini and Gennaro Gattuso were key to the defeat at Old Trafford because "they are two real leaders" but is sure the Rossoneri can still achieve their most important goal of the season. "The [UEFA] Champions League is always Milan's priority, I understood it immediately when I arrived here. I’m sure we will find a great atmosphere at San Siro, like the one at Old Trafford but of course with positions reversed. We don’t need to say anything to our fans, they are all prepared."
The right-back has played all five games in the competition since joining from S.S. Lazio in January, despite pressure from veteran Cafu who had made the position his own in recent years. "He's a top player and I have many things to learn from him," Oddo said. "He has amazing qualities both as a player and as a human being." Cafu has won the FIFA World Cup twice, while Oddo played only a few minutes during Italy's successful campaign last summer: "Winning the World Cup is always an amazing experience, and I feel part of the victory. However, when you play on a regular basis you feel more involved. That's why I want to win the [UEFA] Champions League."
Willing and able
Oddo followed Alessandro Nesta's footsteps in joining Milan from Lazio. The centre-back scored one of the penalties in Milan's last success in the competition, when the Rossoneri defeated Juventus at Old Trafford in 2003. If needed, Oddo would be ready to take the same responsibility. "I have always taken penalties during my career, but of course when I joined Milan I had to respect the hierarchy I found here," he said. "However, if there is the necessity I will surely take a penalty. I never back out of my responsibilities." This is surely the attitude Milan need if they want to reach the final in Athens.
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