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UEFA Champions' League

Wayne Rooney to Score, Manchester United to win

Never mind David Beckham – Manchester United have a score to settle with AC Milan. The Reds have played the Rossoneri four times in Europe’s premier competition and the Italians have prevailed on each occasion. So will it be fifth time lucky for the Reds? And should you back them to qualify at odds of 1.56 (4/7)?

Yes and yes. But steady on, first legs first; the price on a Reds win in the San Siro on Tuesday night is a very appealing 2.82 (9/5). It’s actually a little surprising to see United as favourites to win the match as they’re poor record against Milan is largely down to the way that they’ve come unstuck at the San Siro.

Even in last year’s Champions League tie with Inter, the Reds failed to score and only came away with a 0-0 draw. On the two recent occasions that Milan have dumped United out of Europe – in 2005 and 2007 – the first leg was played at Old Trafford. Playing the second leg at home is a big reason for you to back United to win the tie over all.

Milan are a bogey team for the Reds but that’s been overshadowed in the build up to this match by the hype about Beckham. This could work in United’s favour and allow Sir Alex and his men to get on with the job of plotting the Italian side’s downfall.
Only the most foolish fan/punter would doubt Becks’ professionalism but one comment, made in an interview with a Sunday newspaper, could be telling. The former United number seven said: “It’s a big shame Giggsy’s out… Hopefully he’ll be fixed up soon and maybe he’ll make the second leg?

Eh? Did we read that correctly? Becks’ thinks it’s a ‘big shame’ that United will be without their captain, most experienced player, two times Champions League winner and PFA Player of the Year? Somehow, I doubt his Milan team-mates would concur.

Milan’s main source of inspiration will be Ronaldinho. The Brazilian has been devastating in recent weeks, destroying Juventus, scoring his first Serie A hat-trick and hitting a wonder goal from 30 yards. United’s defenders will have to be at their most alert to nullify his threat. Back Yes for a United clean sheet at 3.0 (2/1).

Milan lack a player who can tear United apart as Kaka did three years ago. They’ve been in good scoring form since Christmas but so have United and the Reds have the more penetrating attack. Wayne Rooney is the in-form player in Europe while Milan’s Alessandro Nesta is not the defensive rock he was – as evidenced by the two goals Udinese managed to score at the San Siro last Friday. If United’s attacking movement is as slick as it was against Arsenal a fortnight ago, Milan won’t know what’s hit them.

Back Rooney to score and United to win 0-2 at 15.5 (14/1) but if you fancy placing a saver bet, odds of 2.5 (6/4) on Over 2.5 goals are appealing.

You can also follow Milan v United live online here.