Champions League: Five ways Manchester United can keep Real Madrid quiet at the Bernabeu tonight

Talking Tactics

1. Deny Ronaldo space

No player over the two legs of this tie will get as much attention as Ronaldo. His 182 goals in 179 games at Real Madrid is a phenomenal stat compared to anyone. While the discussion is about who will mark him, and how, the answer actually is not to mark him but mark the spaces he will look to exploit.

Every world-class forward likes to operate in the space between defence and midfield. United's back four really do have to concentrate and communicate with those in front of them – probably Michael Carrick and Phil Jones – in the Bernabeu. They cannot let Ronaldo get the ball and turn them in this area and start running at Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. They will need protection.

2. Have De Gea at his best

David de Gea has had a good run in the team of late and will be at home in Spain. If United are to go through, then the keeper will have to perform very well in both games. Madrid won't bombard him with crosses and set-pieces like some teams do in the Premier League, but he'll have to be at his shot-stopping best to keep Real out. Most professional players can look back and pick out a game that was a turning point in his career. This just might be that moment for De Gea.

3. Get Rooney around Alonso

Xabi Alonso makes Madrid tick, just as he did at Liverpool. He'll receive the ball from Sergio Ramos and look to pass to Madrid's three attacking midfield players, Ronaldo, Mesut Özil and Angel di Maria, in the same way he used to thread the ball through to Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. It would be ideal for Wayne Rooney to play just behind Robin van Persie and try and disrupt Alonso's game. Not only can he put pressure on Alonso by getting his head down, he can also break off him arriving into the box late.

4. Use Carrick wisely

Michael Carrick has had a brilliant season so far for United and has taken on the responsibility of United's main midfield man. His use of the ball has been exceptional, but this game is a real test for him. He has to be brave and want the ball in all areas. Madrid will likely have the majority of possession, but when United have the ball they need to keep it, to allow the team time to move up the pitch and regain their shape. Carrick will be key to turning of defence into attack.

5. Get distances right

United have to get their distances right. That means they cannot allow Madrid too much space to operate between the lines – the space between defence and midfield and behind United's back four. Chelsea were tactically superb last year against Barcelona. They simple denied Lionel Messi and co any space or freedom to play in. They marked spaces not players which was key to their success. United will have to be at their most disciplined of the season to be in with a shout.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution