Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to face Manchester United in AC Milan’s Europa League showdown with the English giants tonight as the resurgent ‘Rossoneri’ aim to announce their return to the big stage.
The Swede should be in good spirits after announcing his return to international football after nearly five years away on Tuesday, and appears to be winning the race to face his old club in the second leg of their last-16 clash at the San Siro.
The tie is locked at 1-1, with Milan having the slight advantage thanks to Simon Kjaer’s stoppage-time away goal in the first leg at Old Trafford last week.
Italian media reported on Tuesday that the veteran forward trained with the rest of the Milan squad and should be available for the first time since he left his side’s 2-1 win at Roma with a thigh injury at the end of last month.
Since then he has made headlines on a different kind of stage, co-hosting the Sanremo music festival which is possibly Italy’s biggest pop cultural event.
With 14 goals in 14 league games, the 39-year-old was a major reason behind Milan occupying top spot in Serie A for large periods of this season and his return to Old Trafford for the first leg had been highly anticipated before he picked up his injury.
Coach Stefano Pioli knows that he doesn’t need Ibrahimovic to get past United after a superb display in Manchester last week, and his side could well start the game with their talisman on the bench.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has Marcus Rashford back after the England forward played the full 90 minutes of their 1-0 win over West Ham at the weekend.
Of the remaining ties tonight, only Rangers’ match with Slavia Prague looks to be in the balance as they will kick off at Ibrox all square at 1-1 following their draw in the Czech Republic last week.
Four-time European champions Ajax and Roma are both virtually assured of passage into the next round as they are 3-0 ahead in their ties with Young Boys and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Also strong favourites to go through are Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Villarreal and Granada thanks to their two-goal leads going into their second-leg matches.
Olympiakos head to the Emirates to face Arsenal, who are fresh from a derby triumph over Tottenham, but face a battle at 3-1 down.