Real Madrid v Manchester United: LIVE
REAL MADRID v MANCHESTER UNITED
Follow live text commentary as Spanish Giants Real Madrid host Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Uefa Champions League
Real Madrid: Diego Lopez, Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Fabio Coentrao, Khedira, Alonso, Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo, Benzema. Subs: Adan, Pepe, Kaka, Carvalho, Essien, Modric, Higuain.
Manchester United: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Welbeck, Carrick, Jones, Kagawa, Rooney, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Smalling, Hernandez, Cleverley.
The world's richest football clubs Real Madrid and Manchester United meet on Wednesday here in a Champions League last 16 first-leg tie described by Jose Mourinho as "the match the world is waiting for".
Alex Ferguson takes his United side to the Spanish capital after extending their lead at the top of the Premier League to 12 points with Sunday's 2-0 win at home to Everton.
"The world is not waiting for other matches in the Champions League so I hope we can give the world what they are waiting for," purred Madrid boss Mourinho.
The meeting also marks the latest instalment in the Ferguson-Mourinho duel with the Scot emerging triumphant last time the pair locked horns as United disptached Mourinho's former employers Inter Milan 2-0 on aggregate at the same stage of the 2008-09 competition.
His current Madrid side is sixteen points behind Barcelona in La Liga and only the delivery of a tenth Champions League title to the famous old club would be enough to appease his critics in the Spanish capital.
Mourinho's reign at Madrid has been a tumultuous one this season, with a series of dressing room disputes between the Portuguese coach and his players.
However, one of the club's captains Sergio Ramos feels the tension in the Madrid camp has been overplayed and that his team are motivated for the United game.
"It's more a case of things that people said that weren't true than a reality of conflicts in the dressing room," Ramos told English Sunday newspaper 'The Observer'.
"If there are problems in the dressing room or if the relationship is bad and stories are published that can create issues and affect you, it generates a problem.
"But when there are no problems and people invent it, it does not matter," added Ramos, who was dropped by Mourinho and told to train apart from the squad for several weeks earlier this season.
Despite the problems Madrid are enjoying some good form, losing only once in twelve outings in all competitions, and it is two years since they lost a Champions League game at the Santiago Bernabeu when Barcelona were the victors.
Cristiano Ronaldo will face his old club on the back of another hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday and his attacking partner Gonzalo Higuain is convinced their side can beat United in the Bernabeu.
"With our individual quality and counter-attacking play we can do a lot of damage to United. We have to keep it solid at the back and find our winning mentality and team spirit," he said.
Madrid are almost at full strength and the inclusion or not of Portuguese centre-half Pepe is Mourinho's big dilemma.
Pepe has recovered from an ankle injury in time, but has not played a minute since the turn of the year and only started training again last week.
French youngster Raphael Varane or the experienced Ricardo Carvalho are the alternatives to partner Ramos in the centre of defence.
The return of Xabi Alonso in midfield will be key for the Spaniards.
He was rested against Sevilla after suffering discomfort last week and he missed the Spain friendly against Uruguay in midweek but trained on Monday and should be ready.
United rested Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa against Everton, but with rivals Manchester City losing on Saturday, Ferguson did not introduce the wholesale changes he had promised.
United are undefeated in fourteen games and Ferdinand told UEFA.com that former team-mate Ronaldo is the key man to stop.
"You get as many people around the ball when he's got it as possible, but Madrid are that good a side you have to make sure you're set up right and that your team are in good positions all over the pitch to defend.
"The fans appreciated him when he was here and since he's been gone they sing his name. He came here a young boy and left a world-class player. He showed a lot of respect when he left and still does," Ferdinand added.
It's the game we've all been waiting for and it's finally among us. Real Madrid host Manchester United in the first leg of the last 16 in this seasons Champions League. Both sides are desperate for European success this season, with Madrid looking to win 'La Decima'. Los Blancos haven't won the Champions League since 2002, and will no doubt prioritize this seasons campaign as high as ever, with their current domestic struggles putting La Liga to one side.
Manchester United are the complete opposite of Real Madrid. Sir Alex Ferguson's men sit 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table with their victory over Everton last weekend. Mourinho was in attendance for the game, and was rumored to have paid Sir Alex a visit before kick off. The two have come out in the media recently and highlighted their close relationship, something that has stretched back from Mourinho's time at Porto.
Although the pair have such a strong relationship, Mourinho feels that his relationship with Sir Alex is strong enough for the loser to feel a small degree of please at the other man's success! Mourinho said: "I feel privileged about that because he is such an important person in the football world, and more importantly, a good person."
Sir Alex admitted to changing his first team selection for the game against Everton after Manchester City's defeat, and you can be sure it'll be a similiar side who line up against Madrid this evening. Manchester United arguably have the edge with their current form, the Red Devils have taken 16 points from a possible 18, and look to have one if not both hands wrapped on the Premier League trophy. With one trophy seemingly already won, Fergie can now pay his attentions to the FA Cup and Champions League.
Mourinho and Real Madrid have all but given up their quest to retain their domestic crown. A flamboyant Barcelona side have stormed ahead this season and look increasingly likely to re-claim their title. Madrid do however have a semi-final tie against Barcelona to play, and are most definitely still in the hunt for the holy grail that is the Champions League.
Real Madrid will be favorites for the first tie in Madrid, however with an away goal an incentive for Manchester United, expect the English side to attack Madrid on the counter. Fergie and his men will need to get some sort of result at Madrid, be that a goal-scoring draw or an unlikely victory. Away goals always have a massive impact in European fixtures, and it will no doubt be very similiar in this game.
Manchester United will be out to prove a point against Madrid, with English clubs facing the possibility of not being in a quarter final fixture for the first time since the 95/96 season. Fergie will know that whilst he has Robin van Persie firing on all cylinders his side have a chance, but it'll be tough.
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