Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t have a great record against Real Madrid, and for a man who forget the victories almost instantly but struggles to let go of defeats that means this game is likely to be a big priority for many reasons. Even with that in mind, I suspect the main reason the United manager and players will have for wanting to win is the professional pride and possibility to add the biggest prize in club football to their CV, some for the second or third time, but no doubt the senior players will also be aware of what these games mean to the father of the dynasty, Sir Alex.
A home draw is not the ideal result for Real to bring to Old Trafford, but they’ve at least got some history to draw upon, with their only previous victory in those circumstances coming against United in the 1999-2000 Champions League. Jose Mourinho has seen a marked upturn in the form of his club since the first leg which culminated in what wasn’t his first-choice eleven beating Barcelona, something I’m sure he’ll have loved, and he is another boss who cannot let the defeats go. There are interesting parallels between the way he has set about destroying the Catalans and what Ferguson wanted to do to Liverpool on arriving in England, suggesting that to be a true great you must have both positive and negative energies, and this is a clash of what Americans would call ‘hall-of-famers’.
Real are favourites to go through to the next round despite the slightly disappointing performance at home, rated 4/5 to United’s 5/4, and you can get a generous 12/5 with BetFred on Cristiano Ronaldo scoring in a Real victory. Phil Jones is out injured for this game but Robin van Persie, Patrice Evra and Danny Welbeck should all be available after sustaining minor knocks in the 4-0 weekend win over Norwich, and Rio Ferdinand has recovered from the flu sufficiently to play if needed. The only player unavailable to Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is captain Iker Casillas, but former United star Cristiano Ronaldo should start along with Alvaro Arbeloa, Sami Khedira, Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil after they were all rested for the 2-1 victory against Barcelona on Saturday.
Image credit: Jan S0l0