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
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Compare the Barcelona and Real Madrid players in El Clasico
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Tim Sherwood: The mavericks have always needed special handling – but Balotelli is not delivering his side of the bargain for Liverpool
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Modesty of Louis van Gaal makes nice contrast with his old pupil Jose Mourinho
Real Madrid analysis: Toni Kroos control may give extra edge that enables Real Madrid to retain Champions League crown
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts