Beckham hopes to secure Old Trafford start

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The Independent Online

David Beckham will have the chance to play his way into Milan coach Leonardo's team to face Manchester United in two weeks' time when he starts tomorrow's home Serie A game with second from bottom Atlanta.

Beckham's disappointing display in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against United earlier this month has meant he has been overlooked in Milan's last two games but with captain Massimo Ambrosini out injured and Mathieu Flamini suspended, he should return.

The former England captain has struggled to find his early Milan form when he was used in a front three with Ronaldinho and Marco Borriello. The return of Alexandre Pato has seen him pushed back into midfield and it has been Pato's goals – one in each of Milan's last three matches – that have enabled them pick up nine from nine to stay within four points of leaders Internazionale

Beckham's return to the starting line-up gives him the opportunity to force his way back into favour ahead of Milan's date at Old Trafford on 10 March. A win tomorrow could see Milan reduce Jose Mourinho's side's lead at the top to just one point. The suspended Inter coach will watch from the stands as his weakened side go to Udinese.

Barça have missed Alves

There has been much head-scratching, soul-searching and breast-beating after Barcelona's last three games saw them suffer a comprehensive league defeat to Atletico Madrid, beat Racing Santander in a match described by Johan Cruyff as "the worst" since Pep Guardiola took over as coach two years ago and grab only a lucky Champions League draw in Stuttgart.

Dani Alves has missed all three of those games but returns tonight for the home game against Malaga. Could it be that Barça were simply missing the brilliant Brazilian full-back's goals and assists?

Should the champions slip-up again Real Madrid are poised to go one point clear at the top providing they win at Tenerife.

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