Had there been more people in attendance at UEFA’s Nyon base on Friday, there would have been an audible gasp as two of the continent’s heavyweights were drawn against each other in the Europa League.
Manchester United were the first ball drawn and they were swiftly matched with AC Milan to set-up two mouth-watering legs in mid-March.
Milan have amassed nine major European honours in their rich history while United boast five, and the two giants will do battle in the last 16 as they bid to progress and add to their impressive trophy collections.
The victor of the tie will reach the quarter-finals and will fancy themselves to build on the result and reach the showdown in Gdansk in May.
Certainly, there is plenty at stake for both Milan and United – but the last-16 tie has an added edge for the two men likely to start up front for either side.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani’s rivalry dates back to their time together at Paris Saint-Germain between 2013 and 2016, when there was constant jostling to be considered the club’s premier striker.
The ill-feeling Ibrahimovic had towards Cavani was laid bare by his former LA Galaxy teammate Michael Ciani last year.
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“If you are close with Cavani, Ibra doesn’t like it,” Ciani told RMC Sport . “Either you are with Ibra or against him.
“He told me that everything was fine with [former manager] Laurent Blanc at PSG. The only person he did not get along with was Cavani.
“He told me that he had only hated three or four team-mates in his entire career… and one of them was Cavani.”
Who will come out on top as United and Milan face off in the Europa League? Have your say in the comments.
Ibrahimovic has had a number of rivalries over the years and the Swede has clashed with Inter Milan ace Romelu Lukaku since he moved back to San Siro in January 2020.
Though he is 39-years-old, he has netted a remarkable 14 goals in 17 games this season and his form is sure to alert his former club Manchester United.
Meanwhile, Cavani has enjoyed a fine start to life at Old Trafford since joining on a free transfer from PSG last summer.
The Uruguayan has netted seven goals in limited minutes, though his future with the club is uncertain as the clock runs down on his contract.
But with Anthony Martial struggling in front of goal, Cavani has established himself as first-choice centre-forward and is poised to play a major role during the run-in.
As such, his two outings against former teammate-turned-rival Ibrahimovic next month add an extra dimension to an already-enticing Europa League clash.
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