Manchester United FC will face a familiar foe in José Mourinho when the champions of England take on their Italian counterparts FC Internazionale Milano in the opening leg of their first knockout round tie at San Siro.
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Manchester United FC will face a familiar foe when the champions of England take on their Italian counterparts FC Internazionale Milano in the first leg of their first knockout round tie at San Siro.
• While Sir Alex Ferguson's men will be looking to turn the clock back ten years to their quarter-final elimination of Inter en route to their UEFA Champions League triumph of 1999, an adversary from their more recent past, the Italian club's coach José Mourinho, will have other ideas.
• Mourinho got the better of United when leading FC Porto to the European crown in 2004 and also enjoyed an impressive record against the Old Trafford team during his subsequent spell in the Premier League as manager of Chelsea FC.
• Mourinho steered Porto past United in the 2003/04 first knockout round, the Portuguese side winning 2-1 at home on 25 February 2004 and then securing an overall 3-2 success thanks to Costinha's 90th-minute equaliser in the return in Manchester on 9 March 2004.
• During his time at Chelsea from 2004-07, Mourinho suffered only one defeat in ten matches against United. His record read W4 D5 L1 and included a 1-0 victory in the 2007 FA Cup final.
• Inter advanced to the last 16 as the second-placed side in Group B with two wins, two draws and two defeats. Their home form was mixed, yielding only one victory and two goals in three games, the last of which brought a 1-0 loss to pool winners Panathinaikos FC.
• United progressed as winners of Group E on the back of two wins and four draws. The titleholders recorded the joint-best defensive figures of the group stage – conceding just three goals – and are one of five unbeaten sides left in the competition. Moreover, they have not lost any of their last 19 fixtures in the UEFA Champions League since going down 3-0 to Inter's neighbours and rivals, AC Milan, on their last visit to the Giuseppe Meazza in April 2007. Should they avoid defeat against Inter, it would establish a new UEFA Champions League record.
• While United are now aiming for a third consecutive quarter-final appearance, Inter are out to make amends for successive defeats at this stage in 2006/07 and 2007/08.
• The Italian side have traditionally fared well at home against English opponents, with six wins and just two defeats from ten previous encounters down the years.
• Recent history is less encouraging for the Nerazzurri, however, given those defeats came in their last two meetings with Premier League visitors.
• Inter went down 1-0 to Liverpool FC in the first knockout round last term, Fernando Torres scoring to consign them to a 3-0 aggregate reverse. Prior to that, the Nerazzurri had suffered a 5-1 home drubbing by Arsenal FC in the group stage of the 2003/04 competition.
• Although Inter have won five of their previous eight two-legged ties against teams from England, they ran out losers when they met United at the last-eight stage of the 1998/99 competition, Sir Alex's men prevailing 3-1 on aggregate.
• Dwight Yorke struck two first-half goals (7, 45) to earn United a 2-0 win in the first leg at Old Trafford on 3 March 1999. Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs were in the United team, with Javier Zanetti in the Inter lineup.
• When the sides met again a fortnight later, United became the first English team to avoid defeat away to the Nerazzurri in what was Inter's sixth home contest with a side from England. Inter substitute Nicola Ventola raised home hopes with a goal after 63 minutes but another substitute, Scholes, secured the visitors' passage to the quarter-finals with an equaliser two minutes from time. Zanetti was again part of an Inter side that included former United defender Mikaël Silvestre, with Neville and Giggs starting the game for the visitors and Scholes coming on as a 76th-minute replacement.
• United's two subsequent visits to the stadium have both brought reverses against the city's other team, Milan: 1-0 in the 2004/05 first knockout round and 3-0 in the 2006/07 semi-finals.
• Overall United have enjoyed little success on their travels to Italy, losing ten and winning just three of 15 matches. It took them eight attempts to record an away victory over Italian opposition, although they certainly broke their duck in style by defeating Juventus 3-2 in the 1999 UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg.
• United were 2-0 winners at AS Roma on their most recent visit to the country, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney the scorers. With that goal, Rooney took his tally to six in his last eight appearances against Serie A clubs.
• In two-legged ties against Italian teams down the years, United have won four and lost six.
• Nobody on Inter's playing staff is better acquainted with the English champions than Brazilian winger Mancini, who faced them six times with former club Roma over the course of the two previous seasons. Although he struck Roma's equaliser in a 1-1 group-stage draw in Italy in December 2007, he is unlikely to hold too many fond memories of opponents who won four of those six encounters, including a 7-1 quarter-final triumph at Old Trafford in April 2007.
• Inter midfielder Patrick Vieira converted the deciding spot-kick on his final appearance for former club Arsenal against United in the FA Cup final in May 2005. Vieira's Arsenal prevailed 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw.
• Another Inter man with experience of cup success against United is Sulley Muntari. The Ghanaian's 78th-minute penalty gave his old club Portsmouth FC a 1-0 win at United in the quarter-finals of last season's FA Cup en route to winning the trophy.
• Serbian midfielder Dejan Stanković, meanwhile, was in the S.S. Lazio side that defeated United 1-0 in the 1999 UEFA Super Cup.
• Inter's Portuguese winger Luís Figo and United's Cristiano Ronaldo both came through the youth ranks at Sporting Clube de Portugal.
• United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar had a spell in Serie A with Juventus between 1999 and 2001, while full-back Patrice Evra also played in Italy in the late 1990s for Marsala Calcio and Monza Calcio, but never appeared in the top flight.
• The return leg at Old Trafford will be played on 11 March.