Phil Thompson is backing Man Utd and Tottenham to finish top of their Champions League groups.
Last Updated: 06/12/10 3:27pm
Man Utd v Valencia
7pm, Tue, Sky Sports HD2
Manchester United find themselves in a delicate position ahead of their game with Valencia.
Both sides have qualified and Sir Alex Ferguson knows he needs to avoid defeat to top the group. Based on my experiences with Liverpool, I firmly believe that's vital to your chances because it allows you to play the second leg at home in the next round.
It's a major advantage, particularly for the likes of United, who have fantastic home form in Europe. They'll feel they can overturn any first-leg deficit at Old Trafford - so it's imperative they don't lose this game.
Normally I would expect Sir Alex to use a few squad players, with the cavalry on the bench if he needs them later on. However, their game was called off last Saturday and they have a six-day break before the next match - Arsenal on Monday - so he might decide to play his best team.
Of course, anybody with a niggle will not be risked in these freezing conditions, but I think this would be a good chance for Wayne Rooney to get some more match practice under his belt at the top of a 4-3-3 formation.
From what we've seen, it looks like his touch isn't quite there yet and that will take a few more games. But the important thing is he looks like he's enjoying his football again, which didn't appear to be the case at the start of the season. That's good to see.
United could become the first team to go through the Champions League group stage without conceding a goal, but I think that says as much about the quality of their opposition as it does about them.
United have looked vulnerable in the Premier League and have only kept six clean sheets in 15 games, but it's no great surprise that teams like Bursaspor and Rangers haven't scored against them in Europe.
I'm sure Valencia felt unlucky not to find the net when these teams met at the Mestalla and they were aggrieved that Javier Hernandez scored late to give United the victory.
But how often do we see the words "Manchester United" and "late goal" crop up in the same sentence? It's no surprise when that happens because they've done it so often over the years.
So yes, Valencia were unlucky and I have been impressed with how well they have coped with the loss of their star players David Villa and David Silva. I expect them to cause problems for United on Tuesday evening.
But I don't see them causing enough problems to win the game.
THOMMO'S VERDICT: I'm going for a home win - but a narrow home win. I predict a 1-0 scoreline and United will keep that impressive clean sheet record intact.
Bursaspor v Rangers
7.45pm, Tue, Sky Sports 4 (Red Button)
Rangers can travel to Turkey for their final group game against Bursaspor with their heads held high.
They have amassed five points so far and although they will not progress to the next round, they have already secured a place in the Europa League.
Group C was always going to be difficult for them, up against Manchester United and Valencia, and I feel they have acquitted themselves very well.
The quality of football in the Scottish league has been diminishing as each season goes by and it isn't preparing the top teams for Champions League football. It is becoming increasingly unlikely that Rangers will get out of the group, as was often the case in the recent past.
I think Walter Smith has done well with his team and a Europa League spot was as good as he could have hoped for. I think their supporters should view this campaign as a success.
This game is a dead rubber, but if Smith goes there with a 4-5-1 formation and they pressure their opponents all over the pitch I feel they are capable of coming home with a result.
THOMMO'S VERDICT: I wouldn't be surprised to see Rangers go out on a high. If they don't leave too many first-team players out, I would back them to go away with a victory.
Twente v Tottenham
7.30pm, Tue, Sky Sports HD4
Some people might be shocked by how well done Tottenham have done in the Champions League.
However, it's come as no surprise to me because their squad is full of quality and depth. Their substitutes' bench against Liverpool last week included players such as Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Niko Kranjcar, Vedran Corluka, Carlo Cudicini and Sebastien Bassong, so there is much to admire beyond their first XI. You need that to do well in this competition.
Harry Redknapp and his players have been on a steep learning curve. They had a rude awakening when they went 3-0 down to Young Boys in the preliminary round and their mental approach was much better in the group stage.
They have really attacked teams and have played some really open football, but they might need to be a bit more cautious in the next round.
Look at the glorious defeat in Milan when they fought back from 4-0 down to narrowly lose 4-3. Things get a bit meaner in the last 16 and there is less chance of making a comeback like that. Spurs were lucky to avoid a hiding that night - and they will need to learn that lesson.
It would be a major achievement for them if they were to top their group in their first Champions League season. It would also make the knock-out rounds more interesting if they can bump Inter Milan into the second set of seeds and potentially give them a tough last-16 match.
Spurs just need to match Inter's result against Werder Bremen to take top spot and I think they've got every chance. Harry will tap into that strength in depth I mentioned and perhaps make a couple of changes, but he'll know the importance of topping the group.
He knows they need a strong performance in Holland, then they can put this competition to bed for a couple of months and focus on the league.
THOMMO'S VERDICT: I see Spurs winning this 2-0 and I do expect them to finish top of Group A - which would make things very interesting in the next round.