With the 1st leg having ended 1-1 at the Bernabeu, one would expect it to be an open game with everything to play for. However, with so much at risk it could well turn into a cagey affair with neither side wishing to take the initiative and play an expansive game. Both will likely set-up with formations that are designed to soak up pressure and break quickly on the counter-attack.
Real Madrid would certainly prefer a game where they can sit back, relinquish the lion’s share of possession and use the pace of Cristiano Ronaldo to get behind Manchester United’s defence. However, they may find that they have more of the ball higher up the pitch than they would normally be used to in matches of this magnitude.
United are in the driving seat and it is the Merengues who have the emphasis thrust upon them to find the goal that they need to break the current tie. Winning the tenth European Cup is an obsession for the side from the Spanish Capital. They believe the trophy is their property and Mourinho, in possibly his final season, is expected to lift the big eared trophy in his last match.
Madrid are likely to repeat the same 11 that won at the Camp Nou last week in the Copa del Rey against Barcelona, Pepe may make an appearance, but is expected to start on the bench. Manchester United will be without Phil Jones, but after his hat-trick performance at the weekend Kagawa is expected to start for the Red Devils.
Recent history favours Real Madrid, having qualified twice against United in 2000 and 2003. Madrid won at old Trafford in 2000 with an own goal by Roy Keane and a Raúl brace seeing them though on that occasion with a 3-2 win (Beckham and Scholes were United’s scorers) having drawn 0-0 at the Bernabeu in the 1st leg. Madrid went on to defeat Valencia 3-0 in Paris in the Final.
In the quarter final in 2003, Madrid won the 1st leg 3-1 at the Bernabeu. In the 2nd leg at Old Trafford Ronaldo (the Brazilian legend) scored a memorable hat-trick for Madrid that earned him a standing ovation from the United faithful. Madrid went on to lose the match 4-3 but progressed 6-5 on aggregate.
The aggregates between both sides would suggested only one goal to decide the result tonight, so hard is it split the two, but who will progress? The bookmakers favour Madrid to progress from the tie. Both teams to score is a best price 1/2 (1.50) with Bet 365.
Would it be a great surprise for the 1st leg result to be repeated and the match to go to extra time and possibly even penalties.
Manchester United v Real Madrid
Live on ITV, 19.45
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Cleverley Carrick; Kagawa, Rooney, Welbeck; Van Persie.
Real Madrid: Diego López; Arbeloa, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao; Xabi Alonso, Khedira; Di Maria, Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo; Higuaín.