Real Madrid vs. Manchester United  1 - 1


Ferguson unworried by Real Madrid

4 March 2013 01:30

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Real Madrid will not worry his side in their Champions League clash at Old Trafford.

The English Premier League leaders scored a priceless away goal in Madrid to bring home a 1-1 draw, which means the Spanish side must at least score in England if they are to progress to the quarter-finals.

But Ferguson, who watched Jose Mourinho's team win their Copa del Rey semi-final clash at Barcelona, believes the visitors posed few problems to United in the first leg.

He told reporters: "Although we expected Madrid to have a lot of possession – and there were periods when they did – there was nothing that worried me unduly.

"They weren't carving us open. They were generally just playing in front of our defenders, across the width of the pitch. We were comfortable with that.

"I felt we looked very comfortable and we gave a good account of ourselves. We could have scored five or six goals."

The Scot also feels that, had his strikers been on top form in their first-leg tie, United would have returned home with a massive win.

"Unusually for Robin van Persie, he missed two great opportunities and their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves," Ferguson said.

"Danny Welbeck also missed one just before half-time. We perhaps should have won the game."


Alonso hails Mourinho

21 February 2013 19:14

Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has defended coach Jose Mourinho, but admits he is unhappy with his side's form this season.

The Spanish champions have all but surrendered their domestic crown to Barcelona, while they face a tough challenge in progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals following their 1-1 draw with Manchester United in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The club have also been subject to continuing rumours of dressing-room disharmony, particularly since Mourinho's shock decision to drop captain Iker Casillas at the end of last year.

But Alonso has played down suggestions of a spat between the pair and insists he remains one of the best coaches in the world.

In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, the Spain international said: "(Mourinho and Casillas) maintain a good working relationship as coach and player, but they don't have to go out for a beer.

"As a coach he is very, very good. One of the best in the world. He has made me grow personally and professionally.

"He is excellent at empathising with players. Take it from me, first hand."

The former Liverpool man said he was unhappy with the club's results so far this season and called for them to remain united through both good and bad times.

"I hear everything and see the differences between what is real and what is published," Alonso said.

"And we cannot be denying things all the time. We are and must be a team, we have to be together, because it is a team sport.

"When the results are good everything seems prettier. When things go bad, it seems like all conflicts, personal disputes and problems arise.

"But it is true that this year we are not happy because we have lost more often than usual."


Van Persie rues uncharacteristic misses

14 February 2013 04:12

Manchester United's Robin van Persie feels he wasted chances to hand his side a win in Wednesday's Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

The Red Devils earned a 1-1 draw in the first-leg last-16 clash at the Bernabeu, but could have carved out a lead had Real goalkeeper Diego Lopez not regularly thwarted the Dutchman.

After the game, Van Persie lamented his inability to hand Sir Alex Ferguson's side a potentially decisive victory in the Spanish capital.

"I had three in the second half, especially the other when I hit the bar," the former Arsenal hitman told Sky Sports.

"That was a big chance, I should have put that in. I slightly mis-kicked it, I didn't hit it properly. So with a bit of luck, it could have gone in but it didn't.

"In the dying seconds, their keeper made a really good save because I was counting that one to go in."

United goalkeeper David de Gea was also worked hard on his return to Spain, and Van Persie said either team could have come away with a win.

"Yes, for sure (it could have gone either way)," he added. "They had a couple of good chances and I think if you said it would finish 1-1 before the game, most of us would take it.

"Away from home, it's a good result but for the people who watched the game, they have seen chances on both sides and it was a great game to watch."

The result means that Real have to score when they travel to England, but the 29-year-old does not believe that fact counts for much.

When asked whether United have the advantage, he said: "Well, slightly. At this level I don't really think these kind of teams care if they play at home or away.

"We don't really care, they don't really care and it is only half-time now. We will be ready for the second half."

Goalscorer Danny Welbeck also expressed delight after netting at a stadium he described as 'magnificent', and praised his team-mates for not being daunted by the occasion.

"I knew where Wayne (Rooney) was going to put it and thankfully I put into the back of the net," he said.

"You come to the Bernabeu and it's a magnificent stadium, but we came to play the game and not just the occasion."


All to play for, says Ronaldo

14 February 2013 02:32

Cristiano Ronaldo is optimistic about Real Madrid's Champions League hopes after their 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Wednesday.

An enthralling contest saw both sides score a goal apiece in the first half of the last-16 tie, though the Red Devils' away goal means that they hold a slender advantage in the second leg at Old Trafford.

But Ronaldo refuses to be daunted despite his side needing to score in England, telling reporters post-match: "At Old Trafford we can win, we always have the initiative to try to win."

"It was a well-played match. Manchester United are very strong defensively, but we created problems for them. Tonight we missed a few goals, but we do not worry. (The tie) is all open."

The Portugal international scored on the half-hour mark to cancel out Danny Welbeck's opener but refused to celebrate, a decision he says was born out of his respect and affection for his former club.

"I did not want to celebrate the goal out of respect, as I played there for six years. I grew up there, and I have a special affection (for Manchester United)."

Meanwhile, Mesut Oezil reflected on what might have been for Real.

"We played amazingly," he told Sky Sports. "We had lots of great chances, me too in the first half. But this is football. I have to compliment the team for our performance. Now it goes on."

Oezil's team-mate Sami Khedira claimed Real were unfortunate not to take more from the first leg.

He said: "We had a little bad luck today. All in all we can be satisfied and look forward to the second leg."


Tie evenly balanced in Mourinho´s eyes

14 February 2013 00:37

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho does not believe Manchester United hold an advantage in the sides' last-16 Champions League tie.

The Red Devils grabbed a crucial away goal in a 1-1 first-leg draw at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

A Danny Welbeck header from a corner was cancelled out by an impressive headed finish from Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half, but neither side could find a further breakthrough in a match full of attacking action.

Despite United effectively holding a one-goal lead courtesy of the away goals rule, Mourinho confidently predicted his side can cancel that out at Old Trafford.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Mourinho said: "I think they gave everything, but again it was difficult because we started off well.

"Fabio (Coentrao) had a really good chance when he hit the post, then the first time they go in our half they score a goal out of nothing.

"To be losing 1-0 is not a good situation. After half-time they tried but Man U played for the result.

"Their defence was deep but now it is our time to go to Old Trafford and I think 1-1 is not a bad result because everything is open and we can score more than one goal there."

The Portuguese insisted he expected an open game at the Santiago Bernabeu, but expressed surprise at the deep position taken up by United's defence.

He continued: "It was nothing new. It was not a surprise. It was basically what I was waiting for, which is everything open for the second leg and I was thinking this will go to the last minute.

"They changed the way they play. They played very deep in the second half. I don't think Rio (Ferdinand) or (Jonny) Evans put a foot in our half. I think they were waiting our set pieces so they could counterattack for the second goal, but we kept them out.

"Normally that would change the game, but they did well. The result is open; if you ask me a percentage, I wouldn't change my thoughts. It is still 50/50."


Ferguson likes United´s chances

14 February 2013 00:28

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his side are on track to progress to the Champions League quarter-finals.

The English Premier League leaders played out a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

United took the lead through Danny Welbeck before Cristiano Ronaldo's header levelled the match on the half-hour.

Ferguson said the tie was still in the balance, but believes a place in the last eight is well within reach for United.

"It's very open. I think we'll score at Old Trafford. We know they are going to be a tremendous counter-attacking team," Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"I've seen that when they played Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, in the first half, they dominated the game. We have got a big task on our hands, but it is definitely within our grasp."

While Fabio Coentrao struck the post for Real, United also had their chances, with Robin van Persie hitting the crossbar in the second half.

United goalkeeper David de Gea put in a strong display and Ferguson was full of praise for the Spanish shot-stopper.

"I think, all in all, we created a lot of chances in the match. We've played some good, attacking football at times but not got the possession that we should have had," Ferguson said.

"I think Real won possession without question. They are at home, it is a difficult place to come to but I have got to be pleased that the players dug in and got a result to take back to Old Trafford with a great chance.

"I think there were a lot of incidents in the match, a lot of chances at both ends. David de Gea has had two or three great saves but we have missed two or three great chances ourselves.

"The goalkeeper has made a great save in the last minute and a fantastic save from Van Persie, which hit the bar. So there were a lot of incidents that made it a really interesting game."


UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid 1 Manchester United 1

13 February 2013 23:03

Cristiano Ronaldo netted against former club Manchester United as Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw in their Champions League last-16 clash.

Danny Welbeck opened the scoring for the Premier League leaders with a 20th-minute header to deliver United a crucial away goal in Wednesday's first leg in Madrid.

Ronaldo equalised with a header of his own 10 minutes later to set up a finely balanced second leg when Real travel to Old Trafford on March 5.

Ronaldo came up against United for the first time since leaving for the capital club in 2009, but he could not find a second goal as the Spanish giants' prospects of a landmark 10th European title were dented.

Robin van Persie almost made it a perfect night for Sir Alex Ferguson's side 18 minutes from time but was denied twice in matter of seconds - first by the crossbar and then Xabi Alonso's goal-line clearance.

Fabio Coentrao almost put Real ahead after just five minutes at the Bernabeu but his right-footed shot from 16 yards was tipped on to the far post by United goalkeeper David De Gea.

After settling in to the game, United took the lead with their first real opportunity with the easiest of goals as they took advantage of Real's fragility from set-pieces.

Wayne Rooney whipped in a corner from the left and as the home defenders stood and watched, Welbeck rose to head into the bottom corner to send the 4,000 United supporters into delirium.

Real countered immediately as Ronaldo and Mezut Oezil in particular caused the visitors problems with their movement in the final third.

On the half-hour mark, Ronaldo levelled the scoreline with a trademark header. Angel Di Maria played in an inviting cross from the left and the Portuguese rose high, craned his neck and headed the ball into the corner.

Both teams continued to search for a second goal, Welbeck flicking an inventive effort just wide from a Van Persie cross before Oezil forced De Gea into a sharp save.

The steady stream of attacks continued after the interval, with Di Maria firing just wide before De Gea was again United's saving grace, the Spaniard producing an unorthodox save with his feet to kick away Fabio Coentrao's volley.

At the other end, Van Persie went agonisingly close for United twice in the space of a minute, first seeing his right-footed shot cannon off the crossbar via the faintest glove from Diego Lopez, before the Dutchman's scuffed volley was cleared off the line by Alonso.

There was still time for Ronaldo to fizz a trademark free-kick just over the crossbar from 35 yards but United held on for a result that leaves them well-placed to reach the quarter-finals.


McQueen tipping Carrick to shine

13 February 2013 10:54

Former Manchester United star Gordon McQueen is backing Michael Carrick to star in their Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

The midfielder has enjoyed arguably his best season in a United shirt in 2012/13 but there remain critics who insist that he has failed to deliver on the big stage, particularly in the Champions League.

McQueen believes the 31-year-old has the chance to silence his detractors against a side who boast one of the best players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo.

Carrick suggested on Monday it might take three players to keep the Portuguese superstar quiet but McQueen is confident Sir Alex Ferguson will entrust the England midfielder with the role in Wednesday's match.

"Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two players in the world that you know will hurt you if you give them time and space," McQueen told

"In the past he would have had a Roy Keane, Paul Scholes or, more recently, Darren Fletcher doing the marking role, but I think Wednesday is tailor-made for Carrick.

"Carrick came to United as a flair player who sometimes struggled to impose himself physically but he's now a tougher, more disciplined player who can be trusted to do a job on Ronaldo.

"Sir Alex will tell Carrick that he cannot allow Ronaldo to go one-on-one with his defence. I'm sure he'll opt for experience with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the centre but he will expect Carrick to give them good cover.

"It might not be the sort of role he would envisage for himself at United but, if Carrick gets it right and Ronaldo has a quiet game, then it could be the performance that shapes his United career."


Essien: Ronaldo is anxious ahead of United clash

12 February 2013 22:16

Cristiano Ronaldo is nervous but excited ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United.

That's the view of Ronaldo's team-mate Michael Essien, who is looking forward to taking on the Premier League giants.

The Portuguese spent six years with the Premier League leaders, winning three league titles and the Champions League once, before leaving for Madrid in 2009.

"Cristiano is anxious; you want to start the game. He is in extraordinary physical condition," Essien said.

The former Chelsea man also added that Jose Mourinho's side are prepared for encounter, while noting United's considerable attacking threat.

"In the Champions League it will be a different game. I'm ready and the team is as well," he said.

"They have many attackers and it is up us to stop them."

"They are a fantastic team. It's a great game and I can't wait for it to start. We're not scared of being knocked out. It's another great game and the players are all really excited, really looking forward to playing. We know it will be very tough".


Mourinho shrugs off United link

12 February 2013 19:08

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has talked down his chances of replacing Alex Ferguson as Manchester United's next manager.

The former Inter Milan man has been heavily linked with replacing Ferguson when the 71-year-old finally decides to call time on his tenure at Old Trafford.

When 50-year-old Mourinho was asked on Tuesday if he would be replacing his counterpart at United, he replied: "No, because we have to end our career at the same time. He at 90, me at 70."

Mourinho, speaking ahead of the Champions League round-of-16 first leg between Real and United on Wednesday, said his next job will in England, where he enjoyed a hugely successful spell in charge of Chelsea between 2004 and 2007.

"The Premier League will be my next step," he said.

Mourinho has been linked with a return to Chelsea and a move to United's cross-city rivals Manchester City.

But the Portuguese coach said he is firmly focused on Wednesday's clash between Real and United.

"Man U has that responsibility too and we feel that responsibility. I think for sure it is the match of this round of the Champions League, I think it is the most important one," he said.

"It is always a privilege, not just when you win. We all want to play against big opponents, big coaches, big players, big teams and Man U

represents all of that."


Jones, Evans fit to face Real

12 February 2013 16:59

Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are likely to be available for Manchester United's Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

The defensive duo were doubts for the game against the Liga giants on Wednesday after being withdrawn during the 2-0 league win over Everton, with Alex Ferguson revealing after the game that the pair would need to be assessed.

"Phil Jones got a kick on the calf and we will have to monitor that," Ferguson told reporters on Sunday.

"Jonny Evans got a bit of cramp, and I think he's just lacked a couple of games. He only had 45 minutes for Northern Ireland. He had to travel all the way to Malta for 45 minutes, so we will see what he is like."

However, it now appears both players are in contention to start at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu after completing a training session on Tuesday.

Ashley Young and Paul Scholes, who were both suffering from minor knee issues, also came through the session unscathed before the squad flew out to Madrid.

The injury news is not as positive for Madrid, however, as influential midfielder Xabi Alonso failed to complete Monday's training exercises due to complications with the pelvic problem that has sidelined him for a week.

Nevertheless, he is expected to take part on Wednesday.

Defender Pepe is expected to make his first start since December, having recovered from an ankle injury.

Club captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas is out due to a broken thumb and is likely to be replaced by Diego Lopez.


Schmeichel doubts Mourinho´s United chances

12 February 2013 16:08

Peter Schmeichel believes Jose Mourinho will not take over from Alex Ferguson at Manchester United due to the controversy he attracts.

With Alex Ferguson approaching his 72nd birthday and Mourinho's position at the Santiago Bernabeu under scrutiny after a disappointing season in La Liga, speculation is mounting that the Portuguese is eyeing a role at Old Trafford in the near future.

However, former United goalkeeper Schmeichel feels Mourinho is not the man to provide stability at United, pointing out his brief tenures at some of Europe's top clubs.

"(Mourinho) will not be the successor," Schmeichel told El Mundo.

"I don't think the club would be happy with everything Mourinho brings with him.

"He's a great candidate for his qualities as a manager but the club doesn't want all the things that come with him. Chelsea, Inter (Milan) and now Real Madrid - he doesn't last more than three years."

United face Madrid at the Bernabeu in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie on Wednesday, and Schmeichel is surprised the Spanish side are being touted as favourites by many given their domestic form.

"Almost everyone in the world considers Madrid to be favourites - that's strange," he said.

"We (United) should beat them because we're having a good season."


Carrick singles out Ronaldo threat

12 February 2013 15:34

Michael Carrick believes Manchester United may have to triple mark Cristiano Ronaldo against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The two European heavyweights face off in the round-of-16 first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with Portugal international Ronaldo facing his former side for the first time since his 80 million-pound transfer from Old Trafford to the Spanish capital in 2009.

Despite the pressure of a world record fee, Ronaldo has netted a remarkable 182 goals in just 179 appearances for Real, and Carrick has singled out the "special" forward as the main threat to United's European dreams.

"Everyone has fond memories of Cristiano," he told The Sun.

"What he's done at Madrid is incredible and he's going to take some stopping.

"I think we will need two or maybe three to mark him to be honest, he's been that good for Madrid."

And while Barcelona star Lionel Messi has eclipsed Ronaldo on a personal level by winning the Ballon d'Or for the past four years, Carrick insisted his former United team-mate's talent should be feared.

He continued: "(Ronaldo's) been sensational, to score so many goals so quickly - it's been astonishing.

"Because of Messi, he maybe hasn't had the pats on the back or the credit he deserves because the other guy has been winning everything there is to win but that shouldn't take away from what he has achieved at Madrid. He's a special player."


Higuain wary of United threat

12 February 2013 13:22

Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain says his side want a clean sheet as well as a win against Manchester United in the Champions League.

Real hosts United in the round of 16 tie at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs over two legs.

Argentina international Higuain knows United are among the heavyweights in the knockout stages, and wants to avoid conceding at home to maximise Madrid's chances of progression.

"I think it's quite a compact team," he said.

"They (United) always get through to the final stages in European competitions and there's a reason why. We will have to be on our guard.

"Our aim is to win the match and if we can keep a clean sheet, then that's even better. We know that an away goal in this competition can be important."

Former United player Cristiano Ronaldo is sure to steal the spotlight from Real's array of attacking talent in the build-up to the clash, but Higuain declined to single out their biggest threat.

"It's difficult to choose, because I think that a team has to have everything to be a competitive side," he said when asked about Real's strengths.

"We have individual quality and we can be dangerous on the counterattack, but I couldn't name one thing, because a top level team has to have everything."


Champions League preview: Real Madrid v Manchester United

12 February 2013 12:57

Defence looks set to decide Real Madrid's Champions League round-of-16 clash with Manchester United despite both team's attacking riches.

While the focus for Wednesday's first leg in Madrid will be on Cristiano Ronaldo taking on his former club as well as the Portuguese forward going head-to-head with Manchester United's main marksman Robin van Persie, it is likely the game will actually be decided at the back.

United and Real managed just one clean sheet between them in the group stage of this season's competition - the Premier League leaders defeated Galatasaray 1-0 at Old Trafford back in September.

Real conceded nine goals in their six group stage fixtures, while United - that home clean sheet aside - let in six in five games as they qualified for the knockout stages.

United manager Alex Ferguson has struggled to find the right combination in defence all season and has relied on his team's attacking prowess to win matches, but in Madrid he may revert to a more defensive structure.

Ferguson has traditionally packed the midfield and set his team up in a 4-5-1 formation when travelling away in the Champions League, which could see Van Persie start up front in Madrid with Wayne Rooney either on the bench or in behind the Dutch striker.

Real coach Jose Mourinho will know, however, that his team must take their chances at the Santiago Bernabeu with Van Persie and Rooney in deadly form.

Rooney headed into last week's international break having scored 10 goals in as many games since the start of December and also got on the scoresheet in England's 2-1 friendly win over Brazil, while Van Persie has hit the back of the net 23 times in 31 matches this season.

By comparison, Ronaldo has scored 32 goals in 30 games across all competitions this season for Real.

With goals guaranteed and the teams' respective defences likely to make the difference, Mourinho faces a big problem - first choice goalkeeper and club stalwart Iker Casillas is out with a broken hand.

While Casillas fell out favour with Mourinho before the winter break, it is hard to imagine the Portuguese head coach would not have chosen Spain's leading goalkeeper for the visit of Manchester United, especially considering Real Madrid's poor form.

Mourinho's side have won just two of their past five matches in all competitions and have seven victories in 14 games.

In the same period, Manchester United have not lost and have won 11 times, opening up a 12-point lead in the English Premier League.


Pique wants United to progress

11 February 2013 17:00

Barcelona's Gerard Pique hopes Manchester United will reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League at the expense of Real Madrid.

The Spain international played for United from 2004 until 2008, and he is hopeful his former team can beat Barca's arch-rivals in the round of 16, with the first leg of the tie scheduled to take place at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

"I would like Manchester United to make it to the next round," Pique told reporters.

"I would like them to progress because of my time at the club. However, Madrid have been in good form in recent weeks. It promises to be an interesting tie."

The centre-back then went on to discuss Barcelona's 6-1 Liga win over Getafe on Sunday, and hailed his side's strength in depth.

"We have a very complete team," he said.

"A few players who don't usually enjoy a lot of minutes (on the pitch) got to play on Sunday and they proved that they are at a good level. This gives us tranquility."

Barca went 12 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid , who lost 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano.


Ferguson: Real targetting Europe

11 February 2013 16:06

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson believes winning the Champions League is Real Madrid's priority this season.

The two sides are set to go head-to-head at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday.

And, with Real 16 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona in Spain, Ferguson expects Jose Mourinho's men to be fully committed to progressing in Europe.

"I think their target is the European Cup," Ferguson told the club's official website.

"They got a bad start in the league and were chasing their tail a bit because Barcelona's form has been incredible. I think Jose has set his targets firmly on the European Cup, no doubt about that.

"It can be harder for us but there's a bit of pressure for them too. At this moment in time we're involved in three things. Jose has still got the semi-final of the Copa del Rey, they play Barca next week and then again in a league game before we play them on the Tuesday at Old Trafford. So they've got a big programme themselves.

"It's always been important to them, the European Cup, and I don't think it (the pressure) necessarily applies to Jose as I think he's done a great job there.

"He's really built up a terrific squad of players and could play two teams, like us. I don't think it applies to him but you never know in football.

"I don't think there's any secrecy in his own desire to win the European Cup as, don't forget, he'd be the only person to win it with three different teams, so it's a fantastic challenge for Jose."

Mourinho has been tipped by some to replace Ferguson at Old Trafford upon his eventual retirement and the 71-year-old Scot is looking forward to facing his Portuguese counterpart.

"I think he's pitting his wits against me," Ferguson said.

"I think it's a great challenge - the two biggest clubs in the world and obviously it's a big game for us."


Ramos calls for Real focus

10 February 2013 17:44

Sergio Ramos says Real Madrid cannot afford to make a single mistake against Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Spanish champions are in search of their 10th European title, with a round-of-16 first leg clash at home to United their next obstacle.

Although Ramos has denied that his side are obsessed with the competition, he is determined to make it to the final.

"I wouldn't call it an obsession," the Spain defender told The Observer.

"It's been a long time now and everyone says: 'This year la Decima, la Decima, la Decima'.

"Of course we feel that too but we're conscious of how difficult it is, one mistake and you're out. That said, the desire is intense and a final at Wembley would be the maximum."

Ramos went on to say that he was happy to have drawn United in the last 16, having watched them as a child with his father.

"I was pleased to get United," the 26-year-old said.

"They are in the Premier League what Madrid are in Spain perhaps: the values, the history. What they have always represented, the philosophy they transmit, the ideals they inculcated their players with, are similar.

"Few games have the repercussion of this match. And I'd rather play them than a team that's not as big but comes along and surprises you.

"Besides, I like English football. My dad used to watch a lot and always had a soft spot for Manchester United."


Karanka: Europe priority for Real

10 February 2013 04:03

Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka said the Champions League is the club's top priority as they take on Manchester United on Tuesday.

Karanka's side thumped Sevilla 4-1 on Saturday - powered by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick - and he still insisted they would play to win in La Liga despite the 13-point gap to league-leaders Barcelona.

"We have shown we still want to win every league game," Karanka told reporters after the match.

"However, the Champions League takes centre stage now."

The first leg of Real Madrid's last-16 tie will be at Old Trafford and defender Pepe allayed any fears of Ronaldo's substitution with 20 minutes to go, saying the Portuguese superstar's energy was being preserved for the marquee match-up.

"Ronaldo's fine. He works hard and has to play. He deserves it (the hat-trick)," Pepe said.

"The team works hard every day. Today, we went all out. Every game is special, but on Wednesday we will have to keep (our form) up."

The centre-back was deployed as an unorthodox central midfielder on the night in the wake of Gonzalo Higuain's sending off, and he confirmed his readiness to perform the role again in mid-week.

"I'm happy to be back, and do not think playing in midfield against Sevilla to be an experiment," he said.


Khedira sets sights on Champions League

6 February 2013 18:43

Sami Khedira says Real Madrid will give their all to win the Champions League, but has given up on retaining their La Liga crown.

The Santiago Bernabeu side are trailing arch rivals Barcelona by 16 points at the moment, but Khedira is adamant they can still win silverware this season.

"Winning La Liga is impossible. However, we are third and our aim has to be to get second," Khedira said.

"And we are in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and still in the Champions League.

"The dream of all the fans is to win the 10th (Champions League), the 'decima', and we'll do everything we can to achieve it. And we have a good chance.

"However, it will only be possible if we recover our confidence in La Liga. That is still an important competition."

Real Madrid meet Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16.


Ronaldo delighted to face United

3 February 2013 12:52

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo says he had a 'strong feeling' his side would face Manchester United in the Champions League.

The Portuguese attacker spent six years at Old Trafford, helping Sir Alex Ferguson's men to three English Premier League titles before moving to the Spanish capital.

Ahead of facing United in the last 16 of the Champions League, Ronaldo said he was looking forward to the tie.

"On the day of the draw I was out training and I had this strong feeling that we were going to get Manchester United," the 27-year-old told The Sun.

"And when the draw was made I was very happy. It's a tough match of course - Madrid and United are the two biggest clubs in the world and it's a real 50-50. It could go either way.

"Manchester was my home and still is in my heart. I love it. Because when people treat you very well you never forget that. And I will never forget United, the people who work there and the supporters.

"So I am so happy to be going back to Manchester."

Ronaldo warned his team-mates of the threat posed by United, who are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League, and refused to pick a favourite between Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.

"Manchester United are the best team in England, they are great," he said.

"And they have a fantastic coach in Ferguson, I know that. But so have we in Mourinho. And he's my coach now so I obviously hope Mourinho wins.

"It's like comparing a Ferrari with a Porsche. Both are very good, very experienced and both like to win - and I mean to win everything."

Real Madrid face United at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg on February 13 before the return fixture at Old Trafford on March 5.


Mancini will back United against Real

3 February 2013 12:41

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says he will support Manchester United 'with a red-and-white-flag' against Real Madrid.

Mancini has taken the unusual support if it means the Premier League leaders have to navigate a congested fixture list.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side travel to play Jose Mourinho's defending Liga champions in the last 16 of the Champions League on February 13, and a win would keep them on course for another historic treble - albeit with more games to overcome.

With Premier League champions City out of Europe and now focused on the FA Cup and hauling back the Red Devils, Mancini is hoping the extra pressure on United will allow his team to mount another comeback like last season.

"(Beating Real) would be another two games for them. I will go there and support them with a red-and-white flag," he told reporters.

"But playing Real is tough - they are one of the best in the world," he added. "Them and Barca. They have incredible players, fantastic history. It will be very hard for United to beat them because they are a really top club."

While City need to beat Liverpool with their game in hand over United on Sunday to go seven points behind Sir Alex Ferguson's men, Mancini recalls last year's title race as inspiration for this run-in, with the Citizens hauling back an eight-point deficit to win the league on goal difference with the last kick of the season.

"If we could do it last year when we were eight points behind with six games to go, it's not impossible that we can recover this with 14 games left.

"We could recover five or six points and still lose at the end but we'll do everything to win this championship. United have good experience but anything can happen right up until the last game.

"And we have a good memory of what happened last year. When you are seven points behind, it's difficult to recover but we're a good team and playing well. We've also started to work better with the defenders."

Mancini feels City are lacking goals this season, a problem which may be exacerbated by the sale of Mario Balotelli to Milan in the January transfer window.

"I don't know why they are not scoring as many. We're also missing Mario's goals. Last season, he scored 13 in the league and this season, he only got one.

"It's clear that we're missing seven, eight, nine goals and if we had got these, we probably would have four or five points more.

"We are disappointed because we lost two points against QPR but there are some games when you can attack for 100 minutes and you don't score."


Casillas out of United clash

24 January 2013 12:07

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas will miss up to six weeks after breaking his thumb in the 1-1 draw with Valencia on Wednesday.

The keeper was forced to leave the pitch after 17 minutes of play at Mestalla, and the club have now announced that he has sustained the injury, meaning he will miss the Champions League tie with Manchester United next month.

"After carrying out initial X-rays at the La Moraleja Sanitas Hospital, it has been confirmed that the footballer Iker Casillas has suffered a fracture at the base of the first metacarpal on his left hand," a statement on the Madrid website reads.

"It will be assessed again by a specialist later today to decide what treatment will be followed."

The injury will keep Casillas out of action for an estimated six weeks, meaning he will certainly miss the clash with Untied in the Spanish capital.

Additionally, the 31-year-old is doubtful for the return against United, while he could also be forced out of the Clasico versus Barcelona on March 2.


Mourinho up for Ferguson duel

23 January 2013 20:39

Jose Mourinho is relishing the chance to lock horns with Sir Alex Ferguson when Real Madrid face Manchester United in the Champions League.

United travel to Santiago Bernabeu on February 13 for the first leg of the their last-16 clash as the veteran managers meet for the 15th time.

Mourinho has bettered Ferguson on seven occasions, losing just twice, but he has never won a Champions League tie at Old Trafford.

The Real boss is targeting a record 10th triumph in the tournament for the club after admitting retaining their La Liga crown is 'impossible'.

"The 10th Champions League is a target. But be aware that other teams may well win. We should work a lot for this, and especially this season because we are distanced in the league," Mourinho told RMC.

"Manchester United's clash is fantastic. I prefer that. Ferguson is a fantastic example. He comes to see my team and I do the same."

Mourinho has often spoken of his desire to return to the Premier League following his departure as Chelsea boss in 2007, and has again reiterated this desire.

And the 49-year-old admitted he was close to taking charge of England in 2008, but his commitment to Portugal saw him back away from the opportunity.

He continued: "One day, I want to return to England. I spent only three and a half years and I want to go back. But this is not a priority. Today, I just think about tomorrow's game and that's life for all coaches.

"I would like to coach the national team of Portugal and many people expect it there. I hope I know this experience and play a World Cup or Euro.

"In 2008, I was ready to take the English team. But for me, it was Portugal that I want."


Mourinho relishes United clash

14 January 2013 19:27

Jose Mourinho says Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Manchester United is 'the match the world wants to see'.

Real are in the midst of a disappointing La Liga campaign and currently sit third, with a seemingly unattainable gap of 18 points separating them from Barcelona.

Mourinho was in Manchester on Sunday to watch United against Liverpool ahead of their meeting on February 13, and was keen to point out the magnitude of such a tie.

"This is the match the world wants to see," he told The Sun.

"Real Madrid against Manchester United. Sir Alex against his friend Mourinho. The only shame is that it is not the final.

"We know we can beat them. We know they can beat us — but we will be ready."

Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping to win his third Champions League with United.

Mourinho is bidding to become the first manager to win the competition with three different clubs, and says their tough group stage has prepared them well.

"There were groups where you knew who was going to be first and second after two or three games," added Mourinho.

"But our group included three of the best five teams in the competition — Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and ourselves.

"Now we get the toughest opponent in the biggest tie of the last 16."

Real Madrid host United in the first leg of their round of 16 clash on Wednesday, February 13.

La Liga table

# Team MP D P
1 29 +61 75
2 29 +35 64
3 29 +40 60
4 29 +26 59
5 29 +7 47

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 30 +65 81
2 30 +35 65
3 31 +39 63
4 30 +34 61
5 30 +25 56
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