Real Madrid and Manchester United are set to battle for a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals, and Los Blancos’ pair of recent victories over arch rival Barcelona gives the Spanish club the momentum necessary to earn a decisive victory.
United will play hosts for Tuesday’s showdown after the two sides played to a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in the first leg of the knockout stage matchup.
Over the past two weeks, both clubs have been in fantastic form.
The team ensured that it peaked just before its next meeting with Madrid by trouncing Norwich City 4-0. Shinji Kagawa recorded a hat trick, and Wayne Rooney scored an incredible goal from distance to go along with his two assists.
Robin van Persie is always a threat to score, and with Rooney in top form, United boasts two world-class talents at the top of their games. If Kagawa can be an X-factor, the Red Devils will be extremely dangerous.
These are impressive showings, but the level of competition is nowhere near what Madrid has faced recently.
After tying United, Jose Mourinho’s side earned La Liga victories over Rayo Vallecano and Deportivo La Coruña. Then came the two showdowns with Barça.
In the Copa del Rey semifinals, Madrid was shockingly dominant and leapt out to a 3-0 lead before Barcelona got on the scoresheet in the closing moments of the match. Then, the club beat its archrival 2-1 in a La Liga fixture in which Cristiano Ronaldo was a spectator for the first 58 minutes.
The importance of these results cannot be overstated for the Spanish side.
Ronaldo will be bursting with confidence after scoring two goals in Madrid’s first victory over Barcelona, and his teammates will also feel fantastic about their ability to perform after taking down a European superpower without their talisman for two-thirds of the match.
Ultimately, Ronaldo will be the best player on the pitch in this matchup, and if just one of Madrid’s other talented attackers turns in a top-class match, United’s defense will severely struggle.
Both these clubs are playing incredible football. United has not lost in the 2013 calendar year, while Madrid has only been beaten once.
This will ensure that the massively intriguing Champions League matchup will live up to expectations.
But there is no doubt that Madrid’s recent results are more impressive than United’s, and this gives them the slightest of edges in the upcoming clash.