Ferguson ready for big night
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson expects Manchester United will have to score more than once to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
A goalless draw will be enough to see United advance at the expense of Real Madrid at Old Trafford following a 1-1 stalemate in the first leg three weeks ago. Ferguson does not think that will happen, though.
"There will be goals," he said. "Both teams will score but we have to think we will need to score more than one. As a European night I don't think you get any bigger than this one. It is two great clubs with great histories. It is set up to be a marvellous game. It won't be a disappointment."
It is just one of the reasons to look back on Real's last visit to the self-styled Theatre of Dreams, an amazing occasion that finished 4-3 to United, thanks to two goals from David Beckham and a comeback that followed a hat-trick from Brazilian forward Ronaldo that earned him a standing ovation from the Stretford End.
The spectre of Ronaldo remains. Only this time it is the man who once delighted the Old Trafford faithful rather than the one who remains the highest goalscorer in World Cup history, whom Ferguson rather cruelly dismissed.
"The older one, the fatter one, peaked as a centre forward at that time," said Ferguson.
"(Cristiano) Ronaldo is a supreme athlete. He never misses a game, has fantastic physique, two great feet, pace, he is good in the air. My biggest concern is if he turns up because you expect problems. We have to try and curtail that as best as we can. It won't be easy because he does it every week. But it isn't something we should fear."
In his programme notes ahead of the game, the United manager has outlined the relish with which he is approaching a contest opposite number Jose Mourinho has stated the whole world will stop for.
"People ask me why I don't retire after so many years in the game but how could anyone with an ounce of passion for football in their soul voluntarily walk away from the opportunity to be involved in this type of occasion?" Ferguson said.
"This is what it is all about - a packed Old Trafford, the floodlights on, the pitch glistening and two of the greatest and romantic clubs in the game about to do battle."