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.

Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Sport
Jose Mourinho, Chelsea players celebrate Demba Ba's goal and Gus Poyet
sportLive coverage of today's final game between Chelsea and Sunderland
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit