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Milan face defence crisis

MILAN’S plans to stop Wayne Rooney tomorrow night might have to rely on plan B with first-choice central defender Thiago Silva struggling to be fit to start the first leg at San Siro. Daniele Bonera is on stand-by as home manager Leonardo waits on the Brazilian’s fitness.

Whoever lines up in defence, Milan come into the game off the back of conceding twice in the 3-2 win over Udinese. The victory came in spite of a nervous defensive display where they looked vulnerable every time the Antonio

Di Natale-inspired opposition attacked. Udinese netted twice after Bonera had replaced Thiago late in the first half and Milan needed Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to grab a late winner.

The Dutchman looks set to keep his place in Leonardo’s starting line-up with firstchoice centre-forward Marco Borriello also a doubt. A front three of Ronaldinho, Huntelaar and Alexandre Pato would leave David Beckham having to make do with a place on the bench.

Milan welcome United with a major domestic headache as their hopes of finishing second continue to suffer at the hands of Claudio Ranieri’s Roma. Ranieri’s side are 20 games unbeaten after their 4-1 win over Palermo.

They moved back ahead of Milan with their ninth straight win. Leaders Inter Milan withstood a furious barrage from Napoli to earn a 0-0 draw yesterday and end the weekend with a sevenpoint advantage.

Barca suffer rare slip

BARCELONA wasted the chance to create a fivepoint gap between themselves and Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as they crashed to a 2-1 loss at Atletico Madrid, their first league defeat of the season.

Diego Forlan put the home side 1-0 up inside the first 10 minutes and Simao curled home a second from a freekick. Barca fought back in the 27th minute through Ibrahimovic but Atletico dug deep to hold on for the victory.

On Saturday night Alvaro Arbeloa got Real Madrid’s first as they beat Xerez 3-0. Cristiano Ronaldo added two more as the Madrid side closed the gap at the top to two points.

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Ruud in rude health

RUUD VAN NISTELROOY scored twice in 90 seconds to give Hamburg a win over Christian Gross’ Stuttgart. The Dutchman was a second-half substitute in the win that helped Martin Jol’s team into a Europa League spot. Bayern Munich kept the pressure on Bayer Leverkusen. The leaders beat Wolfsburg but are now just one goal ahead of Louis van Gaal’s team who beat Dortmund 3-1.

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