Sports Betting: Milan can still claim the big prize

NEVER, EVER, fall into the trap of trying to back the winner. That is the value punters' mantra and, while the jury is still out on whether there has been any value, not backing the winner has seldom been a problem in this neck of the woods. And Milan - although they may go out of the competition this week - simply have to be backed to win the European Cup at 25-1 with Ladbrokes.

Why? Because at the start of the competition the Italian league champions were justifiably among the market leaders - and were advised here as a fair bet at 7-1 - for the top football club competition. A string of indifferent results has left them staring exile into the Uefa Cup in the face, but there are still reasons for believing Milan can survive this week into the next group phase. If they do, those odds will come a tumbling.

Their task: to win at Galatasaray, while praying that the Chelsea v Hertha Berlin game does not end in a draw. A point apiece will see Chelsea and Hertha Berlin into the next phase and consign Milan to the Uefa Cup. Judging by Chelsea's 5-0 win there, "Hell" ain't what is used to be and Milan can give Galatasaray a torrid time.

As the result suits both clubs, the draw has to be the bet for those punting on the Chelsea game but, with Hertha Berlin beaten 4-1 at home by Galatasaray last week, and Chelsea 3-1 losers at Derby on Saturday, anything can happen.

Dynamo Kiev, another side playing for their lives, can beat Lazio, winners of Group A and therefore with no incentive to exert themselves, while Borussia Dortmund, who need a result, should encounter little opposition at doomed Boavista.

Suggested bets: pounds 1 Chelsea to draw with Hertha Berlin at 6-4 with Coral or Stanley; pounds 1 Dynamo Kiev to beat Lazio at 8-11 with Coral or Stanley; pounds 1 Borussia Dortmund to win at Boavista at 8-11 with Coral or the Tote and pounds 1 on Milan to win the European Cup at 25-1 with Ladbrokes (pounds 4 staked).