While the statistics and past encounters between the two teams point to the fact that Real Madrid should be heading into the second leg of the Champions League knockout stage quite confident, Manchester United are the team with the slight edge thanks to their away goal from the previous match.
You can’t say about every match that any result won’t surprise you, but this is one of them. Real Madrid are the team with the superior individual quality, which was shown in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu as well. But… and there is always a but, they rely heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo, as it seems that when the star player is off the pitch the other talents, like Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil, don’t have that extra gear to push the team forward.
In the previous match between the two teams, Phil Jones clung to Ronaldo in the second half of the match, and didn’t let go. Real Madrid held the ball, but Manchester United were the more dangerous team, with the better chances that Robin van Persie, who isn’t in the best of form at the moment (scoring only 1 goal in 7 matches), really should have put away.
It’s hard to spot who is the more confident team at the moment – Jose Mourinho had his team play two close to perfect matches in the space of four days, beating Barcelona twice, with the fantastic defending and counter attacking skills everyone knew about complemented with dominating the second half of the second Clasico without a problem. The Manchester United match is going to be different simply because United don’t push to achieve possession for the entire match, looking to counter attack whenever possible as well.
While Real Madrid have their full lineup available, Manchester United will be without Phil Jones who was essential in the first leg, and Ferguson will have to find another player to mirror Ronaldo and not let him out of his sight. Don’t be surprised if it’s Wayne Rooney that spends a lot of time marking his former teammate.
One important fact – Real Madrid have failed to keep a clean sheet this season in the Champions League, but knowing they have to score anyway, it really isn’t that big of a deal. One goal, two goals, it’s all the same.
Prediction – Alex Ferguson doesn’t have the best of records against Jose Mourinho, but things have changed since the Special one managed in England, being outclassed by the Manchester United manager in Madrid. Real Madrid had a lot taken out of them last week, and I doubt they have enough left for another huge performance.