Manchester United and Real Madrid meet again for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 clash with the scores at 1-1 and all to play for after the opening clash at the Bernabeu. Danny Welbeck’s away goal early on in Madrid gives the Red Devils the advantage of the away goal but considering the attacking threat posed by Los Blancos, epitomised none more so than by the scorer of the equaliser in the first leg, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sir Alex Ferguson will know any advantage his team has is extremely slight.
Indeed, considering the way Ronaldo and Madrid tore Barcelona apart on the counter-attack in the Copa Del Rey at the Camp Nou a week ago, United will surely know that the threat posed by the Spaniards at Old Trafford will be just as big, if not greater than what they faced at the Bernabeu three weeks ago. The game also marks Cristiano Ronaldo’s first return to Old Trafford since his departure for Spain in the summer of 2009 and the Portuguese superstar will surely be keener than ever to make his mark on the biggest of stages.
United are set to make several changes from the side that comfortably saw off Norwich at the weekend to continue their march to their 20th domestic league title, though Shinji Kagawa may have played himself into contention for a starting place with his impressively taken hat-trick. Ferguson will be without the services of Phil Jones, who played such an important role in a defensive-midfield role in the Bernabeu, due to a niggling ankle injury and he could be replaced by veteran Ryan Giggs, fresh from signing a one-year contract extension at the club, who will make his 1000th senior appearance should he take part against the reigning Spanish champions.
Elsewhere, Robin Van Persie, Patrice Evra and Danny Welbecks are all available for selection after picking up knocks against Norwich while Rio Ferdinand is also fit and should start after recovering from flu. Whether Ferdinand is partnered by Nemanja Vidic or Jonny Evans, his partner in the first leg, is one of Ferguson’s many selection dilemmas.
The visitors are in superb form at the moment having not only seen off Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey but also triumphed 2-1 against their great rivals in La Liga on the weekend despite the absences of Cristiano Ronaldo, Alvaro Arebloa, Sami Khedira, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil. All should return to Jose Mourinho’s starting XI, who’s only missing squad member is goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
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