05/03/13 – Manchester United vs Real Madrid (Champions League Last 16)

Man Utd vs Real MadridManchester United host Real Madrid with the tie perfectly poised at 1-1.

Sir Alex Ferguson will be without Phil Jones, who performed an important defensive role in the first leg, so Ferguson may turn to Ryan Giggs or Tom Cleverley in a holding role alongside Michael Carrick. With Nemanja Vidic playing at the weekend, Jonny Evans will probably partner Rio Ferdinand in defence. Antonio Valencia has been given the chance to play himself back into form – although it’s debatable if he has succeeded – and will probably play on the right, while Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa will expect to fill the left midfield and central playmaker roles.

Madrid are coming into this game off the back of two Clasico victories, so confidence should be high. The form of Raphael Varane has made him a regular alongside Sergio Ramos, but Alvaro Arbeloa appears to face competition from Michael Essien for the right back slot following the latter’s deployment at full back on Saturday. Pepe, often used as a midfield destroyer against Barcelona, may feature as a more defensive option to Sami Khedira. Once again Jose Mourinho must choose between Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain in attack – Benzema’s opener on Saturday in conjunction with Higuain’s poor showing in the first leg probably makes the Frenchman favourite to start. Iker Casillas’ inclusion in the squad suggests he may rival Diego Lopez for the goalkeeping position.

Just as with the first leg both managers will want to counter attack, so the team seemingly on the back foot will often be the side offering the most threat… (Read more)

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