TUESDAY: UEFA Champions League Semifinal, 1st Leg MAN. UNITED-AC MILAN (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes,
2:30 pm ET, live)
It's Manchester United's youth against AC Milan's experience in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal series on Thursday
United is led
by the Professional Footballer's Association Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo
, 22, and Wayne Rooney
, 21. AC Milan
will counter with a defense that includes Paolo Maldini
, who is 38, and Alessandro Nesta
, 31. Seven projected Milan
starters played in the 2003 final when Milan won its last Champions League title.
With his team depleted by injuries -- out are eight first-team players, including defender Rio Ferdinand
and midfielder Kieran Richardson
, who were injured in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough -- Manchester
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson
says the experience is critical at this stage of the competition.
"You can't deny that kind of experience,"
Ferguson said of AC Milan's core of veterans. "Sometimes I look at my own team and I wish we maybe sometimes had more experience in certain situations. But then sometimes I get encouraged by the
hope and the future of the younger players who can really excite people. It's a difficult one. Maldini leaves a legacy. Young players like Rooney and Ronaldo give you a future, but it's very
difficult to say what's best at this moment in time." PROBABLE LINEUPS: Man. United:
1-van der Sar;
24-Fletcher or 2-Neville, 22-O'Shea, 6-Brown, 4-Heinze; 7-Cristiano Ronaldo, 16-Carrick, 18-Scholes, 11-Giggs; 8-Rooney, 14-Smith AC Milan:
44-Oddo, 13-Nesta, 3-Maldini, 18-Jankulovski; 8-Gattuso, 21-Pirlo, 23-Ambrosini, 10-Seedorf; 22-Kaka; 11-Gilardino. Referee:
Kyros Vassaras (Greece).