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Michael Taylor 8th Dec 2009 - 13:22

Three bets to keep your Champions League Wednesday alive


When the biggest story of the last day of the Champions League group phase is that there is a slight chance Inter Milan may not progress to the knock-out stage then you can be pretty sure an epic night doesn't lie ahead, however I think I've found a few good bets that could liven up the proceedings.

1.     Back Liverpool to regain some pride - There cannot be a Liverpool fan alive who doesn't feel at least a little bit embarrassed by their horror showing in Europe this season. The proud Merseyside supporters may still see themselves amongst Europe's elite but their club certainly doesn't reflect that opinion right now with problems on the pitch nearly matching the strife off it.

However, in Rafa Benitez they have a manager who fully understands the value of protecting Liverpool's great tradition and he'll be desperate to claim back the Anfield faithful with a solid final day performance against already qualified Fiorentina.

The Italians have nothing but top spot to play for and, despite the battering they handed out to the Reds in match-week 2, they really aren't anything that special. Plus, if reports are true, La Viola seem more than happy to treat their day trip to Liverpool as a well earned reward for their hard work.

Tip: Liverpool win - 21/20

2.     Carlos Vela can make a name for himself in Greece - Robin van Persie is irreplaceable for Arsenal but, when you're travelling to Greece for a nothing match, there is room for one of Arsene Wenger's fringe players to make a name for themselves. We've seen it so many times in the Carling Cup as the Gunners' bunch of unknown foreign kids tear established sides apart with ease, and it might not be too different from what happens to Olympiacos.

Let's face it, the Greeks aren't a great side. In five Champions League games this season they've managed to muster up just three goals, two of which came in one game against the mighty Standard Liege. Surely that's all the information you need to know Wenger's message will be to have a go and see what you can do.

Arsenal's kids were played off the park by Man City in last week's league cup quarter-final but one player did manage to attract my gaze, especially in the opening exchanges, and that was Mexico's Carlos Vela. If the tricky front man gets another chance to shine then I think he'll grab it with both hands.

Tip: Carlos Vela to score anytime - 7/4

3.     Rangers need to make their mark early - To say Glasgow Rangers' Champions League campaign hasn't gone well must have to be the understatement of the year. After Madjid Bougherra stunned Stuttgart into silence courtesy of a late equaliser in game-day one, there was a genuine feeling Walter Smith could be the man to lead Rangers to the knockout rounds - how wrong we all were.

Now, on this year's European swan-song, Rangers face what should be the toughest task of all, an away day to Spanish giants Sevilla - although it may not be quite as hard as it seems. For starters Sevilla have already qualified and in all likeliness as group winners. They've also been a punter's worst nightmare over recent weeks, finding seemingly easy home challenges against Malaga and Valladolid far more difficult than anybody could have anticipated. Twice they've been forced to dig deep after going behind early, and twice they've only managed to pick up a single point - Rangers could conceivably make it a hat-trick.

It'll be a tough ask for the Gers as they shift all focus to the SPL but they may be able to catch the Spanish cold and hold out until half time. Whether they can out-battle them for a full ninety minutes is hard to imagine but, for at least 45 minutes, they could be in with a shout.

Tip: Rangers to be leading at half time - 15/2





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