Michael Carrick relishing 'extra special' clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid
The sides meet at Old Trafford tomorrow
Monday 04 March 2013
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick acknowledges nights like tomorrow are the ones that really get his competitive juices flowing.
After almost seven years at Old Trafford - during which time he has won four Premier League titles, won one Champions League and played in two other finals - Carrick has enough experience not to be overwhelmed by the biggest of occasions.
But he accepts certain matches are beyond the norm.
And tomorrow's home encounter with Real Madrid, in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, certainly counts as that.
"These are the nights you live for," he said. "It is extra special.
"There is just something in the air. Everyone comes to the stadium with a spring in their step.
"Every supporter is that little bit more vocal. They appreciate how important it is and what it means to get through.
"The prestige and history of the club suggests we should be challenging in the later stages of these tournaments.
"It is up to us to go out there and do it."
Iker Casillas' presence in the 24-man Real Madrid squad that flew into Manchester last night underlines the importance being placed on the game by Jose Mourinho given the vastly experienced goalkeeper has been missing since January, when he fractured his hand against Valencia, and only returned to training on Thursday.
Yet Sir Alex Ferguson's love of European combat means United will be fully primed for a task that includes stopping former Red Devil Cristiano Ronaldo, who returns to his old club for the first time since his £80million move to Spain in 2009.
"Cristiano pretty much has everything," Carrick said.
"He can shoot with both feet. He can cross with both feet. His ability on the ball is exceptional. He can manoeuvre the ball and generate space for himself, and we have saw in the first leg how good he is in the air.
"You just have defend as best you can, work as a unit and help each other out."
Though a goalless draw will be enough to send United through after last month's 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, Ferguson has ruled out the potential for such a scoreline given the strength of both teams lies in their offensive potential.
It is not an assessment Carrick wishes to dispute.
"Look at both teams," the England international said.
"We both attack well and have all the threats that can create and score at any given time.
"That is the nature of the tie.
"Even though you might be defending well, you can never switch off.
"We had chances in the first leg and so did they. Either team could have won 2-1 or 3-1.
"It is going to be about who takes their chances on the night."
Latest in Sport
Match of the Day stays: Why the BBC's new Premier League rights deal is better news for some fans than others
Brooklyn Beckham poses in Arsenal training kit following rumours of signing for the Gunners
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Danny Ings to Liverpool: Anfield club attempt to steal a march on rivals in race to sign Burnley striker
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Pair meet at NBA game and exchange numbers, will the fight be announced during Super Bowl?
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures