Beckham will have no reason to celebrate on his return
David Beckham returns to Old Trafford for the first time in seven years, as his AC Milan side take on Manchester United in the second leg of their Champions League tie. Milan will need a huge performance if they are to progress as they trail 3-2 from the first leg.
This is something I cannot see happening though as too much damage has already been done with those three away goals in the San Siro. The build up to the match is all about Beckham's return but the truth is he is nothing more than a bit part player nowadays in the upper echelons of the game, be it in club or international football.
As good a player as Beckham has been, he cannot regularly command a place in Milan's starting XI plus he is far from certain of being in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad. For those that think he has a big performance within him he can be backed at 16/1 to score the first or last goal and 6/1 anytime. I will be keeping my money in my wallet though as I don't think he is destined for an exquisite return to the Theatre of Dreams.
Beckham may represent the past for England and Man Utd, but there is one man who is undoubtedly the present and future for both club and country - Wayne Rooney.
The talismanic striker was an injury doubt ahead of the match, but he did train on Tuesday and he has now been declared fit for this crucial game. It is a massive boost for Man Utd as simply put without Rooney this season they would not be in the title race and would not have a first-leg lead and that is assuming they would have even reached the last 16 in the first place.
Rooney's two sublime headers in the San Siro turned the first leg around after Milan had dominated for much of the game. He has thrived up front on his own with more pressure on his shoulders following the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez plus the continuing below-par displays from Dimitar Berbatov.
Rooney has notched 28 goals in all competitions but key to helping him score so many has been the excellent deliveries provided by Antonio Valencia.
With Rooney's fitness confirmed then I can't see any other result than a home win, 7/10.
If Milan are to rescue the tie then the back-to-form Ronaldinho will have to have a good game. The Brazilian should be able to exploit a weakness in the United line-up as he will be up against their right back which, in the absence of the injured Wes Brown, will be either Gary Neville or Rafael.
Neville, much like his best mate Beckham, in my opinion is past it and even more so than Becks. So I would have thought Rafael will get the nod, like he did in the first leg.
Rafael though has never fully convinced me defensively and with him being up against someone with the class of his compatriot this could be a problem.
Therefore Ronaldinho could be a bit of value at 10/3 to get on the scoresheet. The former Barcelona man will be part of Leonardo's usual three-pronged attack. A key component of Milan's offence could be missing though as Pato is an injury doubt.
Despite this Milan have the attacking players to cause United problems but the trouble the visitors will have is that Ronaldinho and the other forward players, as good as they are going forward, do not track back very well.
As a result if Man Utd's full backs are able to join in with the attacks then they could easily create overlaps in the final third thus giving the home side the ideal opportunities to add to their aggregate lead.
For this reason I think it is highly unlikely that Beckham's Old Trafford return will be a fruitful one for him personally and collectively for his Milan side as England's recent dominance of Italy in the Champions League should continue.