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United lead the chase

Published: Tuesday 25 February 2003, 14.55CET
Manchester United FC can advance tonight, when the 1,000th UEFA Champions League game will be played.

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Published: Tuesday 25 February 2003, 14.55CET

United lead the chase

Manchester United FC can advance tonight, when the 1,000th UEFA Champions League game will be played.

Today's UEFA Champions League games will take the number of matches played in the competition proper past the 1,000 mark, and both Manchester United FC and AC Milan can mark the milestone by reaching the quarter-finals with two games in the second group stage still to play.

Perfect record
United will become the first side in the history of the competition to reach the last eight for a seventh successive season if they take at least a point from their visit to Juventus FC, having won all three of their Group D games so far and defeated the Turin team 2-1 at Old Trafford last week.

European success
United have been below their best on the domestic scene recently, and were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Bolton Wanderers FC on Saturday. In Europe, however, Sir Alex Ferguson's side have been highly impressive, and are currently the Champions League leading scorers with 23 goals from nine group stage games.

Top of the table
Juventus performed impressively last week even after a 'flu bug deprived Marcello Lippi of a number of key players and, having cemented their position at the top of Serie A on Saturday with a 3-1 win at Como Calcio and with the absentees set to return, the Italian team should be in confident mood tonight.

Significant returns
The other game in Group D sees bottom side RC Deportivo La Coruña take on FC Basel, seeking to avenge their 1-0 defeat in Switzerland last week. Deportivo have since enjoyed a resounding 6-0 victory against Deportivo Alavés in the Primera División in a game which marked the first appearances after injury of playmaker Juan Valerón and captain Fran González, although the two are unlikely to start tonight.

Maldini milestone
Milan's match in Moscow against FC Lokomotiv Moskva could be a hugely significant one, both for the club and for captain Paolo Maldini personally. The defender is set to make a record 118th appearance in Europe, breaking the record set by fellow countryman Giuseppe Bergomi, and Milan, who have a perfect record in the second group stage, will book a quarter-final place with a win.

Lokomotiv seek victory
Lokomotiv, who sit bottom of the group with just one point, need to win if they are to maintain any realistic hope of advancing, yet they remain short of competitive football having not played domestically since late last year.

Title blow
The other game in Group C takes place in Germany where BV Borussia Dortmund take on holders Real Madrid CF. Dortmund are looking to get their challenge for a quarter-final spot back on course following last week's narrow 2-1 loss in Madrid.

Madrid confident
Madrid's defeat of their German opponents left them one point better off in second place in the group. More good news for the Merengues is the return to scoring form of Ronaldo, who followed up his winner on Matchday 9 with another goal in Madrid's 3-1 win against Real Vallodolid on Saturday.

Last updated: 25/02/03 19.57CET

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