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Michael Taylor 13th Mar 2009 - 14:02

Rafa is a one-off legend

Rafael Benitez is the undoubted king of the one-off tie so, when Liverpool travel to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon knowing that a loss would effectively end their title challenge, you can be sure they will be treating it as their cup final.

Benitez isn't the most popular character on Merseyside due to his team's inconsistent Premier League record but when it comes to the big matches nobody can doubt the former Valencia manager's credentials.

The 5-0 aggregate drubbing Gerrard and co subjected Real Madrid too in midweek was just one of a number of mighty performances the Reds have given under the guidance of the serious Spaniard.

And if you think Liverpool will be travelling to Manchester with defeat in mind then you could very easily be counting the cost come 14:30 on Saturday.

The fact that Rafa's men are unbeaten this season against the Champions League position chasers, including a win at Anfield against United and a double over Chelsea, speaks volumes about the type of match he earns his money for - and he'll need to produce his best yet at Old Trafford.

Man Utd are on an extraordinary run of form at present as they continue to sweep everything before them and Sir Alex Ferguson will feel victory could hand them a third consecutive Premier League crown.

However, if there is one team that can halt the charging champions it is Liverpool and I realistically think they can come away from the Theatre of Dreams with at least one point in the bag.

A draw is priced at 11/5 and looks a good bet in a game that could be dominated by two of the best defences in world football.

All the talk this season has been of Edwin van der Sar's record breaking achievements and Nemanja Vidic's continued brilliance but you'd be mad not to consider Liverpool's equivalents, Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher, as nearly on par - and it is for that reason that the 0-0 draw priced at 15/2 looks such great value.

True, both teams have great attacking options, Ronaldo and Torres in particular are two of the finest players to have graced the Premier League but with so much at stake it is hard to see either team committing too many men forward.

In fact I would be surprised if there are more than a couple of clear cut opportunities in the game, which makes the 7/2 about less than 50 points on the match action coupon look attractive.

The one thing that is likely to be out in force though is passion. Wayne Rooney alone has added enough fuel into the fire by stating he 'hates' Liverpool but, even without this, the tension always takes charge when the two hated enemies meet.

You can expect fouls, bookings, perhaps even sending offs, it just wouldn't be a North-West derby without them and it also points towards the 8/11 about more than 45 points on the total bookings market being an absolute banker.

So while the superstars kick lumps out of each other on the pitch, Rafa Benitez can watch from the sidelines and attempt to outwit Fergie for the second time in the season - and who knows, perhaps a Champions League final in Rome could complete the trilogy for these old foes.

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