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Man Utd And Real Madrid Fans Prepare For Crunch Champions League Showdown

posted 5 Mar 2013, 10:27 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 5 Mar 2013, 10:28 ]

Fans of Manchester United and Real Madrid gather in the centre of Manchester with both confident of victory in their Champions League round of 16 second leg at Old Trafford.

 MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UK (MARCH 5, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Fans of Manchester United and Real Madrid were in good spirits on the streets of Manchester on Tuesday (March 5) ahead of a crunich Champions League clash between the two sides at Old Trafford.

Fans made the most of the sunny weather in the build up to the match which will see the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to United for the first time since his move to Spain.

Ronaldo can expect a rousing welcome before his former Manchester United team mates use a newfound defensive solidity to try to make those the last Champions League cheers he hears this season.

The last-16 tie between the two European giants is balanced on a knife edge after last month's 1-1 draw in the first leg and, with United holding the tiniest of advantages in the shape of an away goal, this week's glamour match could be a tight affair.

"I think it's going to be a draw, full time, penalties. I think it's going to be that close, too difficult to call I think," one United fan, Mr Lindford, told Reuters.

"I do think that the first game in Madrid was very good for Manchester United. It wasn't by chance, it was very good work by Sir Alex, and that's why they have a good chance, good work by Sir Alex this evening," said Samson, who has travelled from Israel to see the match.

"United have been in good form too and it's at Old Trafford so we have hope," added Tinafrom Sweden.

United go into the game looking a lot more secure at the back than earlier this season with four successive league clean sheets coming at just the right time before being faced with the all-too-familiar talents of fan favourite Ronaldo.

United warmed up with a 4-0 victory over Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday (March 2) to go 15 points clear at the top of the table.

The trouble for United is that Real are enjoying their own purple patch of form after two morale-boosting wins against arch-rivals Barcelona last week, a 3-1 win in the King's Cup and 2-1 victory in La Liga.

"We think that Manchester United are wonderful, they are a great team, we have respect for them. But we think that Real Madrid now, in the heads of the boys, we think that they're pretty sure about themselves. You saw that in the matches with Barcelona a few days ago, 1-3 and in the league," one Real fan, Antonio from Madrid, said.

Real's preparations for the big game have been taking place a stone's throw away from United's with Jose Mourinho's side using Manchester City's training facilities after arriving in England a day earlier than usual for a European game.

Mourinho, who enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with Ferguson, will have a full squad to chose from and one that is bursting with confidence.

However it is the return of Ronaldo which is the focal point for fans of both teams.

"It's a special game for him and we think he's probably going to have the game of his life," another Real Madrid fan, flanked by his friends, said.

Samson from Israel feels the occasion might get to the Portuguese, however.

"I think that at Old Trafford it's a different story. He (Ronaldo) can get nervous at Old Trafford because of his background at United," he said.

Other thann Phil Jones, Ferguson has no further injury concerns but has been presented with a selection headache after midfielder Shinji Kagawa presented a good case with his hat-trick against Norwich, while Ryan Giggs is on the verge of a 1,000th professional appearance.

Real must not undersetimate United's own attacking ability, with both Robin van Persieand Wayne Rooney capable of causing the Madrid defence problems.

"I mean they're both on fire playing great football, they're linking well together so I don't see why not," said Mr Lindford when asked if United could pose a threat themselves.

Kick off is at 1945GMT.