UCL Round of 16, Second Leg: Man Utd’s Keys to Getting Past Real Madrid
After securing a valuable 1-1 draw away from home in the first leg, thanks to goalkeeper David De Gea, including that all-important away goal, Manchester United will feel a lot better about the second leg, played in front of their own home crowd at Old Trafford, effectively adding an extra players to their ranks.
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As it stands, Man Utd are 12 points clear at the top of the English Premier League. Real Madrid, on the other hand, have been disappointing in a league which is renowned for having but two clear fighters at the top, Madrid being substituted this season of bitter rivals, Atletico.
This gives United the advantage in the second leg alongside their home support. However, with players such as Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, in their books, Madrid will be a match for their opponents. To win, United will have to be at their best; this means a balance between attack and defense. Their defensive work against Madrid in the first leg was impressive and they were fortunate to nick a goal on the break but defending deep against a desperate Madrid will not benefit them this time.
With full-backs such as Rafael and Evra, United are designed to attack their opponents down each flank, with the likes of Nani and Antonio Valencia giving them pace all across the field. The key here is to work on position; if an attacking opportunity presents itself, United must get their speedy players forward, causing Madrid trouble, but they must ensure that all players track back, quickly cutting off Alonso, Ozil and Di Maria from getting away those vital passes.
They will have to strongly rely on the men that have all but won them the Premiership: Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. When these two play well, United win; it’s as simple as that. With the best manager in the world, their team is always complete, so the key now is to maintain concentration at all times.
Predicted Line Ups
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani, Jones, Carrick, Welbeck, Rooney, van Persie
Real Madrid: Lopes, Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao, Khediera, Alonso, Ozil, Ronaldo, Di Maria, Higuain