Manchester United v Real Madrid: Wayne Rooney dropped for Champions League tie

Nani preferred for crucial tie at Old Trafford

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has sprung a surprise by omitting Wayne Rooney from the starting line-up for tonight's Champions League tie against Real Madrid.

There were rumours the England striker could miss out, and they have come to fruition, with Nani chosen ahead of Rooney, who has been named among the substitutes.

Ryan Giggs will start the match in what will be his 1,000th senior appearance for club and country.

In total there are four changes from the first leg, with Tom Cleverley and skipper Nemanja Vidic also included.

Ferguson said in the build-up to tonight's game Giggs would play a part, so his inclusion comes as no surprise.

But the decision to drop Rooney will be considered a major call by the United boss.


Starting Manchester United XI to play Real Madrid is as follow...

De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Carrick, Cleverley, Welbeck; Giggs, van Persie.


Rooney, Hernandez, Kagawa, Young, Valencia.


Starting Real Madrid XI...

Lopez, Arbeloa, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao, Khedira, Alonso, Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo, Higuain.


 Adan, Pepe, Kaka, Benzema, Albiol, Modric, Callejon.


Rumours that Rooney could be dropped were sparked when he played a full 90 minutes against Norwich at the weekend.

In that match he create two of Shinji Kagawa's three goals, as well as finding the net himself in a fine all-round display.

Yet the decision by Sir Alex to allow Rooney to play the full match, while starting Danny Welbeck on the bench and introducing the Bernabeu goalscorer only after 66 minutes to give Robin van Persie a break, raised questions.

Rooney has been a certain starter in United's big games ever since announcing his arrival on the European stage by scoring a hat-trick on his debut against Fenerbahce in 2004.

Yet, with various other attacking options and with United set to go through if the match were to remain goalless, there were suggestions that the 27-year-old could be left out of the starting line up.

Speaking after United's victory at the weekend, Rooney made clear he felt good to play his part as United push for the treble.

"The age I'm at now is the time when most players start to peak – from now and across the next four or five years. Hopefully, that will be the case and the team will benefit from that," he said. "I haven't played as many games as I normally would have at this point in the season and I do feel fresh and ready for that battle until the end of the season.

"With the way the manager rotates the team there will be a lot of players who are feeling fresh as well. Some teams tend to field the same team every week and when you get towards the end of the season you can lose the sharpness because of it. We should definitely be well prepared.

"It's been a bit of a stop-start season for me, with a couple of injuries, which has been a bit disappointing. I just want to keep myself fit until the end of the season now and play a part in as many games as I can to help the team be successful."

You can follow tonight's match LIVE now by clicking here.