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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform