Manchester United vs Real – Predicting an XI

With so many good players at Alex Ferguson’s disposal it’s always hard to predict a team for a big tie. Furthermore, does anyone really know Manchester United’s best eleven? In the modern game it’s horses for courses. The best team to play Real at home might not be the best team to play Stoke away. Accordingly, Fergie will pick the Manchester United team that he thinks can conquer an opposition of ¬†serious attacking talent.

Everyone loves to talk about how Real Madrid are the best counter attacking side in Europe. But, all that this really means is that they have Cristiano Ronaldo in their side. Put him in any top team and you will instantly have the best counter attacking side in Europe. Sure, Xabi Alonso can pick a long pass like a quarter back, but most good sides in Europe have such a player. Ronaldo is the vital instrument of the counter attack because he has such pace, with or without the ball. So many times this season I have seen Real simply hump the ball out of defence before Ronaldo latches onto it and turns the game on it’s head. He is a devastating footballer – of that there is little argument. Real without Ronaldo is easily containable. But with him, they are a true force.

But even in the Bernabeu Manchester United kept him fairly quiet. Sure he scored a goal but many United fans would be happy if he was similarly restricted tonight. In United’s favour, Ronaldo rarely comes up against such a tight defence in La Liga. The back 5 will have to be particularly focused tonight, but it’s certainly not beyond them to negate Real’s forward thrust at Old Trafford. Ronaldo will be given particular attention this evening and with Phil Jones probably not fit Fergie will have to find another player to do his man marking job. Wayne Rooney could certainly do it but this would be a bit of a waste of his talents. Manchester need to be wary of Real but they shouldn’t pay them too much respect. United need to impose their game on Madrid because the first goal will probably be crucial.

So the back five is pretty set. The only question is whether Evans or Vidic partners Ferdinand. We are going for Evans. In midfield we think that Shinji Kagawa has earned his place in the side after a brilliant performance at the weekend. His link up play with Rooney was exceptional and he is the sort of player that can keep possession in the biggest games. He looked most effective when he played through the middle on Saturday but he may be pushed out to the left a little tonight. But, we hope that Fergie will play with at least one natural winger. The obvious chink in Real’s armour is in the full back positions and Manchester United need to exploit these areas. We would like to see Valencia on the right but think that Nani might get the nod. But Giggs is also in contention after finding superb form of late. Despite his age he has been one of Manchester United’s best players in the last month. He was rested at the weekend which has lead many to speculate that he will start the game. Then there is Danny Welbeck, also recently rested and a player who did brillaintly in the first leg. United have so many on form players that Fergie must have had a real headache picking the side.
It’ s going to be an absolute belter! I’m already tingling. I can no longer hit the keys! So here’s our 11

De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Kagawa, Rooney, RvP

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