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Stuart Dalgleish 15th Feb 2010 - 15:37

Milan to nick it, but United will have the last laugh

The Champions League is back on Tuesday and what a match we have here to look forward to.

One of the most successful teams in the competition's history AC Milan (13/8) lock horns with 2008 champions Manchester United (6/4).

While Milan might have an aging squad there is still no shortage of flair in it, and the two biggest names will want to show that they're not past their best yet in this World Cup year.

Of course all the attention will be on David Beckham (9/1 for the opening goal, 10/3 to score at anytime) as he lines up against his old team-mates for the first time since he left Old Trafford in 2003, but you have to think that Becks will be on the plane to South Africa.

The other name of course is the brilliant Ronaldinho, the star was recently voted Player of the Decade by World Soccer magazine but that isn't going to guarantee him a place in the Brazil squad for this summer.

The former Barcelona man had a slow start to life in Italy following his big-money move from the Catalan giants, but this season has seen him rediscover his form, and his smile, and if he continues with the same goal-scoring and goal-assisting ratio that he's enjoyed recently then he'll surely twist Brazil manager Dunga's arm and get back into the national side.

The play-maker has struck 11 times this campaign and has set up just as many goals for his colleagues (including all three in the recent win over Udinese); he's 11/2 to break the deadlock on Tuesday night, 6/4 just to score at any point of the match.

It's not just about those two for Milan though, the Rossoneri have some quality attacking options to choose from; Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (7/1 first, 2/1 anytime) is likely to start upfront, probably with Pato (11/2 first, 6/4 any), after the Dutch ace bagged two goals in Milan's game on Friday evening and he too will be keen to impress with the World Cup looming large, Brazilian Pato has been sidelined for a couple of months but he featured in the aforementioned match and was scoring freely before suffering injury.

With all this technical ability to deal with, United's defence will have their work cut out; Nemanja Vidic will definitely miss the game, he hasn't even travelled to Italy as he is yet to overcome a nerve problem in his leg, Jonny Evans and Wes Brown will vie for a place next to newly appointed England captain Rio Ferdinand at centre-back.

Ryan Giggs will also miss the game after the winger broke his arm against Aston Villa, he and Anderson were absent from Manchester Airport as the squad were boarding the plane on Monday morning. It will be interesting to see what formation Sir Alex Ferguson uses without some of his midfield available to him, Ji-Sung Park (12/1 first goal, 5/1 anytime) has often been used in these big European games just behind Wayne Rooney (5/1 first, 5/4 any) in a front three, Nani (10/1 first, 7/2 any) and Luis Valencia (9/1 first, 10/3 any) have both enjoyed good form this season and will be expecting to be involved also.

Michael Owen (13/2 first, 15/8 any) has scored in both his Champions League starts so far this season (including a hat-trick in Germany against Wolfsburg), but will more than likely be sat watching from his now familiar position on the bench, the same will probably be true of Dimitar Berbatov (13/2 first, 15/8 any) who has only completed one full match in 2010, when the Reds were dumped out of the FA Cup by Leeds United.

Milan are priced at 13/8 to win the first leg (11/8 to qualify for the next round as they have done in all four of their previous two legged affairs with United), the Reds achieved a draw on their last visit to Milan against Inter and that eventuality is a 19/10 chance, Sir Alex Ferguson's side are 6/4 to gain an advantage to take back with them to Old Trafford in three weeks time (8/15 to win the tie).

I fancy Milan to just edge it, but there won't be as much as a gulf in class as their last meeting when Kaka and Clarence Seedorf (10/1 for the first goal, 7/2 to score at anytime) bossed the show and United were humbled 3-0 en-route to the Italians' 2007 triumph, a 1-0 or 2-1 home win could prove profitable at 5/1 and 17/2 respectively, the same scorelines in United's favour are 5/1 for 0-1 and 8/1 for 1-2.

This should be the first of two senstional matches between these European heavyweights, make sure you stay with us all the way as our In-Play service is the place to be for all your live betting needs.


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