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Champions League

by Ben, last updated 2007-04-24 00:00:20

Staying away personally. I think that these games should be watched for the beauty of the game rather than to bet on them. The bookies will know everything about these games so there is little value to be found.

 Champions League preview from PinnacleSports.com


Britain may be the laughing stock at the Eurovision song contest, but the joke is on the rest of continent in this season's Champions League. With Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea all through to the last four of the competition, the Premiership's domination of the competition is the defining issue of the forthcoming semi-finals. Only AC Milan stand in the way of the first ever all-Premiership final, with leading online bookmaker, www.pinnaclesports.com , rating the Rossoneri as the 4/1 outsiders to win the Champions League in their outright market, which is priced to an unbeatable 108%.

Injury Blight Threatening United's Champions League Dream
Manchester United go into Tuesday night's Champions League semi-final first leg at Old Trafford facing a crippling injury crisis. Alex Ferguson may have just 13 fully fit senior players available, and that includes two goalkeepers. United's problems are most acute in defence where the back-four lining up against AC Milan will probably not include any first-choice selections. Fergie can console himself that the crucial strike-pairing of Rooney and Ronaldo have avoided the injury curse, which added Rio Ferdinand and Kieron Richardson to its victims during Saturday's disappointing home draw against Middlesbrough.

Man Utd fans do however, have cause to look on the bright side. The weekend could have much worse had referee Peter Walton not denied the Teessiders a stone-wall penalty, while Chelsea's inability to capitalise on United's slip-up will have produced a collective sigh of relief around Manchester. United faithful must now give the make-shift side that lines up against Milan the belief that the 7-1 hammering of Roma wasn't just a freak result.

Manchester United's demolition of Roma at the Theatre of Dreams was a godsend for headline writers, but that exceptional result doesn't guarantee that the Red Devils will reach seventh heaven in Athens. A simple line of form would suggest that if United can batter Serie A's second best side, then AC Milan should fall victim in the same way. Discounting Milan's 8-point deduction as a result of the Calciopoli affair, the club would still be adrift of the Roma side that were so dramatically humbled at the Theatre of Dreams. However, the Rossoneri have reached the Champions League final twice in the last four campaigns, and will be out to not only defend the pride of Italian football, but restore the club's own reputation. The sides met in knock-out stages in 2005 when United failed to score over two legs and were eliminated. www.pinnaclesports.com certainly don't envisage lightning striking twice, pricing United 2.140 (-0.5) with Milan 1.820 (+0.5).

Battling Chelsea Need to Dig Deep Again
The one characteristic that stands out from Chelsea's historic pursuit of four trophies in one season, is their refusal to give in. The Blues resolve will be tested again on Wednesday night against Liverpool, as the Londoners must pick themselves up after the disappointment of failing to beat Newcastle on Sunday and capitalise on Manchester United's slip-up at home to Boro. The goalless draw on Tyneside was the first time in 24 games that Chelsea have failed to score and could have seriously damaged the defence of their Premiership title. Another blank in their Champions League home tie against Liverpool would also damage their prospects of European glory.

Chelsea will be definitely without the scorer of the crucial goal at the Mestalla, Michael Esssien, while there are doubts over Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko and Ricardo Carvalho. The Reds emerged unscathed from their routine 2-0 weekend home win against Wigan, and are boosted by the return to selection of Xabi Alonso and Craig Bellamy. Liverpool have now conceded just two goals in eight unbeaten games, and having effectively killed-off their quarter-final against PSV in the first leg, will have conserved energy. With Champions League qualification sewn up, Rafa Benitez has enjoyed the luxury of resting key players, while his Portuguese counterpart has been juggling resources, fighting battles on three fronts.

Despite the advantage of fresher legs, the Pool must crack their poor record at Stamford Bridge, having failed to score in their five previous visits, and will bid to become the first team to win at the Bridge in any competition since Barcelona's 2-1 victory in February of last year. www.pinnaclesports.com price Chelsea as marginal favourites 1.800 (0/scratch & -0.5) with Liverpool 2.160 (0/scratch & +0.5).





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