The most anticipated draw in the last 16 Champions League’ matchup takes place in a few days between Real Madrid of the Spanish League and Manchester United of the English Premier League. The first leg takes place on Wednesday February 13 at the Bernabeu with the return leg on March 5 at Old Trafford. The matchup puts Cristiano Ronaldo against his old club United, and in the return leg Jose Mourinho will make his return to English soils.
Pundits believe the Man United v. Madrid matchup will come down to the two superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin Van Persie. They believe both clubs are equally matched and Wednesday’s game will probably end in a tie. I don’t believe that will be the case.
I believe Man United will win on Wednesday and again when both clubs meet at Old Trafford on March 5.
It is worth noting, the Premier League is a more physical league than the Spanish league, and while Madrid has a better defense, it may take them some time to adjust to the physicality of Manchester United. (This could wear down Madrid and give United the edge especially on Wednesday).
There is no question, Cristiano Ronaldo is a deadly threat for Real Madrid, however, for Madrid to win he has to play two superb games which I don’t think he will. (Historically, Ronaldo had not always delivered in big games going back to his time at Old Trafford).
On the other hand, Van Persie does not have to play at the top of his game for United to win. Unlike Madrid, in addition to Van Persie, United has a well balanced attack in Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
Rooney and Van Persie are very opportunistic—they don’t need a lot of chances to score. They very rarely miss and are good at creating chances for themselves. Hernandez has proven to be comfortable in Sir Alex Ferguson’s system and is a great compliment to Van Persie and Rooney.
Also, Madrid is plagued with injuries. Pepe and Marcelo have been injured for some time now; Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzeman haven’t been playing up to form; Angel Di Maria very rarely plays; also, injuries to Iker Casillas are going to prove costly—if he is not in goal, his experience will be greatly missed.
Madrid cannot take Unite for granted—this side is hungry and on a mission. Man. United area as focused as I have ever seen them. United believes they can regain the lost fear factor in Europe that has eluded them since 2008 when they won the Champions League title and made it to two of the next three finals.
They have all but wrapped up the Premier League title and believe they can return to prominence in Europe by capturing the Champions League title. Defeating Jose Mourinho’s Halacticos over two legs is definitely a step in the right direction at achieving this feat.
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