Statistics Favour Real Madrid Over United In Bernabéu Clash
Real Madrid, who has always successfully moved onto the next round when playing the first-leg knockout match at home, will seek out the playoff advantage in the stadium where the squad hasn’t lost in over a year.
The Santiago Bernabéu will experience one of its magic nights tonight. Real Madrid and Manchester United, with 12 European Cups between them, will face off for the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 (8:45 p.m., C+ Liga de Campeones) as they seek to secure their place amongst the top eight teams on the continent. The match will be a special one for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has racked up 13 goals in 2013 and faces his former team for the first time. The Red Devils hold the Premier League’s top spot and have gone more than two months without a loss in an official game and arrive in Madrid in pursuit of a goal ahead of the second-leg at Old Trafford on 5 March.
Two of the greatest sides in the world face off in the Santiago Bernabéu tonight as they seek to secure a place amongst the top eight teams on the continent. The Whites—on the longest undefeated run in Europe (since 18 January 2012)—will once again be backed by the magic of a stadium that always rises to the occasion. In a night with a lot of big-name players one name stands out: Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid striker, one of the top scorers of the competition after scoring six in the group phase, has racked up 13 goals so far this year and faces his former team for the first time.
The statistics are in favor of Real Madrid
Real and Manchester have previously clashed in four European Cup qualifiers, with the Whites picking up three wins in the rounds where the first leg is played at the Santiago Bernabéu. The first match was the 1956 semifinals, when Real won the first leg (3-1) and drew the second (2-2). The two previous clashes were in the quarterfinals and both went in favor of the Whites. They tied first at home (0-0) in the 1999/2000 season and went on to manage a spectacular victory in England (2-3), while the Bernabéu fans got the squad well on its way (3-1) in 2002/2003, which Real clinched in the away game despite a defeat (4-3).
José Mourinho has called up 22 players for the match, notably Varane, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso and Di María. The Real coach, with a record of seven wins and a draw in the last eight Champions League clashes in the Santiago Bernabéu, faces a new battle in Europe’s top competition undefeated as the local team against English sides. He’s picked up five wins and three draws, two of them at the helm of Real against Tottenham and Manchester City.
United the undisputed Premier League leader
Manchester United takes to the pitch after closing out the group phase in Group H’s top spot after racking up four wins and two losses. The Red Devils won four times in the first four matchdays, which mathematically secured them a spot in the round of 16 as well as first in group. The squad went on to lose twice in the last two matches, once away and once at home. Robin Van Persie, with 19 goals so far in the Premier League this season, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez have been the squad’s top strikers with three goals each so far in the competition.
The English squad has been one of the usual names in European competition qualifiers over the past years and boasts 19 Leagues and three English Cups. The side has been directed by Sir Alex Ferguson since 1986 and currently holds the top spot in the Premier League, which they lost to Manchester City last year on goal difference, with a 12 point lead above the second-place squad and 14 official games in a row without a loss (11 wins and three draws since 5 December at home against Cluj).