Resurgent Real Madrid travel to Man United in hope

Real Madrid's back-to-back victories over Barcelona have given them fresh momentum ahead of the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie at Manchester United on Tuesday.

Prior to the 1-1 draw between the teams three weeks ago, the season had appeared to be ebbing away from the Spanish champions, with Barca having assembled a seemingly unassailable 16-point lead in La Liga.

Madrid's chances of catching their sworn enemies remain slim, but the two victories over Barca in the Copa del Rey and the league have injected belief that Jose Mourinho's side can go to Old Trafford and win.

"It's clear that these victories are great for the confidence of the group, because now we face a difficult match in the Champions League," said centre-back Sergio Ramos.

"After the two Clasicos we are going to Manchester convinced that we can win, although with a lot of respect for the opponent, who are a great team."

Madrid's wins over Barcelona owed much to the break-neck counter-attacking football that saw them romp to last season's Spanish title but which appeared to have deserted them in the current campaign.

Mourinho could even afford the luxury of resting several of his most important players in Saturday's 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Cristiano Ronaldo coming off the bench to turn the game in the hosts' favour.

Furthermore, aside from goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has a broken hand, Mourinho has a full complement of players to choose from.

United's squad has also been largely spared by injury, although there are doubts over the fitness of Phil Jones.

The England international worked hard to stifle Ronaldo in the first leg but was then struck down by an ankle injury and missed Saturday's routine 4-0 win at home to Norwich City.

That one-sided victory took United 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League, allowing manager Alex Ferguson to turn his thoughts to Tuesday's encounter.

"It will be a fantastic night," he said.

"You are talking about two of the greatest clubs in the world. Emotions will be high and I am sure it will be a tremendous match.

"If we can get a blank against us on Tuesday, we would go through. But I think both teams will score. I just hope we get more than them."

Ferguson, who saw United fall to Barcelona in the Champions League final in both 2009 and 2011, feels victory against Madrid would convince his side they have the ability to bring home the club's fourth European Cup.

"To beat Real Madrid on our own ground would be a great step forward for this particular team," he said.

"It would give us a chance of going all the way in this tournament."

United's fans already seem certain to witness one milestone, with Ryan Giggs poised to make his 1,000th appearance in senior football after being rested at the weekend.

Tuesday's game will also mark the first time that Ronaldo has returned to Old Trafford since he left United to join Madrid in a world-record £80 million ($120 million, 92 million euros) transfer in 2009.

"This is his house, so there will be a lot of emotion. I hope he doesn't play well because of that," United left-back Patrice Evra told MUTV.

"But Ronaldo is a winner. He is a big competitor. If he can win against Manchester United, he will do it."

In their previous meetings in the competition's knockout phase, United have prevailed only once over two legs, en route to their maiden title in 1968 when they drew 3-3 in Spain after a 1-0 win at home.

Madrid's two most recent away games against United have both been memorable affairs.

The nine-time European champions won 3-2 in 2000 to secure a place in the semi-finals and went through 6-5 on aggregate despite a 4-3 second-leg loss in Manchester at the same stage of the 2002-03 tournament.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • 5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus
    5 Unanswered Questions About Jesus

    As Christians worldwide gather for Easter to celebrate their belief in the death and rebirth of Jesus, researchers continue to delve into the mysteries that surround the man. The following are five questions about Jesus that, for now, at least, remain unanswered. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke argued that the Star of Bethlehem (a celestial event long associated with Jesus' birth) may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a bright light in the sky. Other researchers have claimed that a similar conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter occurred in October of 7 B.C. Still others have claimed that Jesus was born in the spring, based on stories about shepherds watching over their flocks in fields on the night of Jesus' birth — something they would have done in the spring, not the winter.