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Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

David Beckham plots an upset on his Manchester return

Champions League last 16 second leg
Venue: Old Trafford Date: Wednesday 10 March Kick-off: 1945 GMT Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sport website; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobile phones. Also live on ITV1

David Beckham
Beckham is expected to be on the bench for tonight's encounter with United

David Beckham believes his AC Milan side can overturn a 3-2 deficit and send his former club Manchester United crashing out of the Champions League.

"It will be a tough game for us but nothing is impossible," said Beckham.

The 34-year-old is relishing the prospect of facing United at Old Trafford for the first time in the last 16 second-leg tie.

Beckham, still revered by United fans, said: "Coming to Manchester as a Milan player is exciting. I'm not nervous."

Doubt remains as to whether Beckham will start the match but if he does play at Old Trafford it will be the first time since he left United for Real Madrid in 2003.

Beckham 'important' to us - Leonardo

He faces a United side boosted by the return to fitness of Wayne Rooney - who scored twice in the first leg - but that will be without Wes Brown, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick through injury and suspension.

Beckham received a hero's welcome on his arrival at Manchester airport on Tuesday, but United boss Sir Alex Ferguson said he was unsure whether his former player would feature and was struggling to predict Milan's team as a result.

"I am finding it difficult to pick their team, I don't know whether Beckham will start," said the Scot.

"I have not got that down in my conclusions about their team. He has not started a game since the first leg, so it is difficult to say what impact he will have on the game.

"But he will be there and the one thing you have to be aware of is his delivery of the ball, which is fantastic. That is the threat. There are a lot of threats in their team of course, but we are well aware of David's."

United will go for victory - Ferguson

Asked whether Beckham had a chance of starting, Milan coach Leonardo skirted round the issue.

"For Beckham, it is obviously something special to have the opportunity to play against Manchester United given his history at the club," he said.

"When we saw the draw we knew it would be an unbelievable situation for him. But knowing David, and his attitude, I am sure he can cope."

Whether he starts or not, Beckham admits this is the first time he has ever wanted the club he supported as a boy to lose.

"I will always be a Manchester fan and this is perhaps the first time in my life that I want them to lose," he told the AC Milan website. "I'll meet up with many friends and all the people who supported me for many years on the night.

Beckham mobbed on Manchester return

"I played in that stadium for many years and I know what it means to be a Manchester United player.

"But I also know what it means for opponents to play there. It is always difficult to win, especially 2-0. We know we'll have to go for it, play good passes and create many moves, we have many players who can score. We are aware of the fact that it will be a very difficult match, but nothing's impossible.

"Milan have a lot of experience in Europe, they're one of the best clubs in the world."

The match could be played against a backdrop of supporters protesting against the Glazer family's ownership of the club.

There has been some suggestion that fans will delay their entrance into the match by 10 minutes, but Ferguson said: "They won't do that, it is too important a game.

"Old Trafford will be rocking and I am sure whether they are wearing the traditional red and white or the protest green and gold scarves, the fans will be united and singing with one voice to get us through."

Milan will have to create history if they are to reach the quarter-finals - Manchester United have never been eliminated in Europe after winning an away first leg.

"We are very focused - the first leg has given us a good opportunity to come here and achieve something," said Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini.

JAMES PEARCE BLOG

"But we know it will be a huge battle and a huge achievement if we pull it off."

Milan must score at least twice to have a chance of winning the tie but Ferguson said it would be against United's nature to sit back and defend their lead.

"I expect a great game of football and a very open game," he said.

"We want to kill the tie by our own attacking priorities and there's no doubt AC Milan have to score which should make it an open match.

"No-one should see the score as a bye into the next phase - we need to win the match."

When the two sides last met in the 2007 semi-finals, Milan overturned a 3-2 deficit from the Old Trafford leg by strolling to a 3-0 victory in the return.

Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, who scored in that victory at the San Siro, thinks United have been weakened by the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.

"I think that Manchester United three years ago was most probably even better than they are today individually," said Seedorf, whose late goal in the first leg has given the Italians a lifeline.

"They were two great games (in 2007) and everybody loved it because the best players were on the field, so I hope this will be the same.

"We are confident and we are going to do all we can to bring it home. We need to play our best game but hopefully we can put it off."



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Champions League results

10 Mar 2010 23:59 UK



see also
Man Utd 4-0 AC Milan (agg 7-2)
10 Mar 10 |  Europe
Man Utd's Brown out for six weeks
09 Mar 10 |  Man Utd
AC Milan 2-3 Man Utd
16 Feb 10 |  Europe
Football on the BBC
11 Aug 10 |  Football


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