Manchester United Madrid
Uefa Champions League, Last 16
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Tonight’s clash with Real Madrid is United’s biggest match of the season so far.
The Red Devils currently lie 12 points clear of rivals Manchester City in the English Premier League and look well on course for a 20th title.
With that being the case, the club’s obsession with the Champions League can be fully rekindled.
It has been so since that May night in 2011 when United were schooled by
Barcelona on Europe’s
grandest stage. Upon that 3-1 defeat in the Champions League final at Wembley,
Sir Alex said his aim was to build a team to challenge, and beat, . Barcelona
The rise at home of noisy neighbours City has distracted Sir Alex somewhat, but with City out of the picture, full effort can be put into conquering Europe.
Tonight’s match, then, represents the first test in Sir Alex recently under-publicised mission to knock
off their perch. Barcelona
The tie against
significant in that it represents a return to a venue which helped shape
United’s last decade. Madrid
It’s now ten years since United travelled to the Bernabeu for the first leg of a Champions League quarterfinal tie in April 2003. United were thoroughly outplayed that evening and the 3-1 score-line didn’t do justice
|Eye on the prize|
Back then, United were a team that attacked every night, home or away; the thought of a goalless United match was almost unbecoming to some. However, increasingly United became more compact and difficult to beat away from home. That certainly was a hallmark of their runs to the final in 2008 and 2009.
Other lessons came in the 2011 final defeat to
has been building a team since that can challenge Barca’s supremacy – with more
speed, variation and a certain Mr. Robin van Persie. Ferguson
Tonight’s game will be an interesting battle between two well-matched teams.
United’s record at the Bernabeu, however, is something they’ll have a tough time overcoming. Such nuances usually turn out to mean a lot.
United have never won at the Bernabeu and generally don’t have a good record against Spanish teams. Sir Alex’s side has endured past nightmares against Real Madrid,
Deportivo La Coruna and last season were knocked out by Athletic Bilbao in the
Europa League. Barcelona
In their 43 all-time meetings with Spanish teams United’s record is 11 wins, 17 draws and 15 losses. Since the turn of the century it stands at 25 matches, 6 wins, 10 draws and 9 losses.
turn have a pretty good record at home against English team – six wins and two
draws in 12 games. Madrid
United certainly haven’t faced a team with the pace and quality of
in the Premiership this season. The
closest instance was the first half against Tottenham at Old Trafford in
September when United were overrun physically and technically. Madrid
Although the build-up has been spicy, with
newspaper Marca calling Wayne Rooney a “football player and a hooligan all
rolled into one”, expect a cagey affair with few risks taken by either team. Madrid
One thing is for sure, neither side will want this match to be lost before the second leg. Only if there’s an early goal may we see the type of attacking game both managers have talked up, but even then, that’s not a guarantee.
The real fireworks will come in the second leg at Old Trafford.
United Trivia Manchester
- In their most recent meeting, in 2003,
beat United 6-5 on aggregate in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Madrid won 3-1 at the
Bernabeu before a 4-3 win for United in the second leg, a game remembered for
Ronaldo’s hattrick Madrid
home record against English teams reads 6 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses. United’s
away record against Spanish opponents reads 2 wins, 8 draws and 10 losses Madrid