Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to deploy Phil Jones in an attempt to contain his former player Cristiano Ronaldo as Manchester United head to Madrid for the first leg of their highly anticipated last 16 fixture. Ronaldo is set to go up against the club he forged his name at, but Ferguson hopes his prolific record can be nullified by fielding Jones in a ‘spoiler’ role.
Jose Mourinho looks set to continue with Diego Lopez in goal as stalwart Iker Casillas continues to recover from a broken finger suffered in the Copa Del Rey against Valencia, when teammate Alvaro Arbeloa accidentally kicked the goalkeeper’s hand while trying to clear a ball. Another former Liverpool player, Xabi Alonso, looks set to be fit despite concerns over his fitness expressed in the Spanish media.
Although there were worries over the injuries to Jones and Jonny Evans, both have been passed fit, along with the returning Ashley Young following a knee injury. The league leaders will be without Paul Scholes though, with the midfielder unable to recover from his own knee injury suffered against Fulham in last month’s FA Cup win.
PAST THREE MEETINGS...
Manchester United 4 (Van Nistelrooy, Helguera (og), Beckham 2) Real Madrid 3 (Ronaldo 3), Champions League, April 2003.
Real Madrid 3 (Figo, Raul 2) Manchester United 1 (Van Nistelrooy), Champions League, April 2003.
Manchester United 2 (Beckham, Scholes) Real Madrid 3 (Keane (og), Raul 2), Champions League, April 2000.
Manchester United have never won at the Santiago Bernabeu, gaining two draws and two defeats in four attempts.
Real Madrid have not lost in 33 games at home, with their last defeat coming in the Copa Del Rey against Barcelona in January 2012.
Real Madrid lost to 14th-placed Granada 1-0 two weeks ago to leave them 16 points behind leaders Barcelona.
Ferguson and Mourinho have met 14 times, with ‘The Special One’ taking six victories compared to Ferguson’s two – three if you count a penalty victory in the 2008 Community Shield.
Real Madrid to win: 1.65
Manchester United to win: 5.6
April 23, 2003: Manchester United 4 Real Madrid 3
Having lost their quarter-final first leg 3-1 in Madrid, United knew they had to go on the offensive. First half goals from Van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo were followed by two more for the Brazilian striker. Looking beaten, the Reds rallied and an Ivan Helguera own goal and two from David Beckham saw them triumph on the night, but they crashed out of the tournament on aggregate.
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2 at 7.45pm. Highlights on Sky Sports 1 from midnight.