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Beckham hopes for happy return

Published: Friday 5 March 2010, 15.54CET
David Beckham will return to Old Trafford intent on toppling Manchester United FC and Olympique Lyonnais will aim to upset Real Madrid CF as the first knockout round second legs get under way.
Beckham hopes for happy return
David Beckham returns to Old Trafford on Wednesday ©Getty Images

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Published: Friday 5 March 2010, 15.54CET

Beckham hopes for happy return

David Beckham will return to Old Trafford intent on toppling Manchester United FC and Olympique Lyonnais will aim to upset Real Madrid CF as the first knockout round second legs get under way.

Returning to Old Trafford for the first time since leaving Manchester United FC seven years ago, David Beckham will be looking to get one over his old side when the UEFA Champions League first knockout round second legs get under way next week.

The former United favourite was a UEFA Champions League winner with Sir Alex Ferguson's men but he will have to help engineer a turnaround similar to the one his corners sparked in the 1999 final against FC Bayern München if AC Milan are to advance to the quarter-finals.

The Rossoneri trail 3-2 from the first leg in Italy and should current United hero Wayne Rooney, scorer of two goals at San Siro, recover from a knee injury in time to play, United will be confident of ensuring Beckham's homecoming is not a happy one.

By the time Beckham takes centre stage in Manchester, two of this season's quarter-finalists will already be known as Arsenal FC host FC Porto and Bayern face ACF Fiorentina on Tuesday. Both Porto and Bayern travel with leads to defend thanks to 2-1 victories in their home legs.

That buffer could be crucial to the Portuguese champions who have not fared well in England, failing to win in 13 previous visits. The statistics do not all favour Arsenal, however, as the Gunners, who could be without injured captain Cesc Fàbregas, have won just one of the nine European ties in which they suffered an away loss in the opening leg.

Bayern, in contrast, will take heart from recent history after defeating Juventus 4-1 on their last visit to Italy in December to seal a place in the knockout phase. Louis van Gaal's charges have also been in scintillating domestic form since then, while La Viola have struggled, though it would be dangerous to read too much into that ahead of a UEFA Champions League match in which everything can turn on one moment of magic.

Real Madrid CF will be hoping the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká can provide just the spark they need against an Olympique Lyonnais side who have not conceded in 620 minutes in all competitions. The French side lead 1-0 thanks to Jean II Makoun's brilliant strike at the Stade de Gerland last time out, leaving Madrid up against it as they bid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004 and preserve their dream of gracing the final in their own stadium.

The second set of last-16 ties takes place the following week, with Sevilla FC hosting PFC CSKA Moskva and FC Internazionale Milano travelling to Chelsea FC on 16 March, before FC Barcelona meet VfB Stuttgart and FC Girondins de Bordeaux entertain Olympiacos FC the following night.

Last updated: 08/03/10 12.04CET

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