Published on February 13, 2013 | by Craig Matthews

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Ronaldo will pose Real problem for United

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo faces Manchester United for the first time since he left in 2009. (Flickr: Jan Solo)

The most successful European club of all time, Real Madrid, welcome British giants Manchester United on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie, in what will surely be a classic encounter.

Jose Mourinho’s star-studded side will prove a tough task for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, as both teams will look to get off to a good start in this two-legged tie. The Santiago Bernabeu is a fitting setting for this high profile match with 85,000 fans packed into the stadium.

If that doesn’t get the adrenalin flowing, it will be the first time Cristiano Ronaldo goes head-to-head with his old club.

United will go into the tie on high spirits after gaining a huge 12-point lead over rivals Manchester City in the race for the Premier League. Real Madrid, meanwhile, are currently sitting in third place in the La Liga and will not be fuelled by the same spirits.

Mourinho vs Fergie

Mourinho is no stranger to Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactics, having a good record against the Scot in his time at Chelsea. Fergie is one of the greatest managers of all time, however his relative lack of Champions League titles (only two in his tenure) will leave Mourinho thinking he can get the better of the veteran, having won two Champions League competitions in his short career.

The comparisons between the two sides are easy to see as both sides have a notoriously dangerous front line along with counter-attacking ability. In order to have a realistic chance of overcoming Madrid, the Red Devils will have to operate their counter-attacks like a finely-tuned machine.

Youngster Jonny Evans is looking a different man from the player he once was a couple of seasons ago and has turned into a real composed central defender. He will have his work cut out though, if he is to keep Karim Benzema and Ronaldo at bay.

While the over-exuberant Tom Cleverley maybe overshadowed in such a big game for a young player, he will look to prove that he is a main stayer in this United team for years to come.

Madrid on the other hand are faltering in the “smaller” games. Consistency is the problem and they only seem to be up for playing to their true potential when faced against tough competition.  This will not be a problem when facing United, as games don’t come much tougher.

Ronaldo

United’s main problem will be trying to limit Ronaldo’s effectiveness. He is one of the finest players in the world and underperformance is a rare trait. His presence in the side will inject confidence throughout the team. His ability to change a game in an instant or a magical moment could well set these two sides apart.

Sir Alex will look to leave Spain with an away goal, putting the team in the driving seat for the return at Old Trafford in a couple of week’s time, but Real are renowned counter-attacking specialists themselves, so if they manage to take a lead to Old Trafford, United will have to be very careful in how they take the game to their opponents.

Whatever happens this is sure to be a classic match and one not to be missed.

 

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