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The 31-year-old is expecting a tight affair at Old Trafford and believes the key to victory over Los Blancos will be through an even balance between defence and attack

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick is wary of Real Madrid, but believes him and his team-mates are more than capable of advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals.

The last-16 tie is delicately poised from the first leg after the Red Devils secured a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu three weeks ago.

Danny Welbeck opened the scoring, netting an away goal, before Cristiano Ronaldo levelled matters before half-time - and Carrick believes United have to be wary of their former player.

"With the strike power we’ve got and the strike power they’ve got, both teams will have to defend well," the 31-year-old told reporters.

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"You have to have the complete game in many respects.

"I don’t think we will be gung-ho and I don’t think they will. But it’s hard to know, isn’t it? The game over there was tight at times, but we could have come away with a 3-1 win and so could they."

With all eyes on Old Trafford and Ronaldo’s return, Carrick is expecting an extra spice to the atmosphere for what he believes is a ‘special’ game.

He added: "It’s all about taking our chances. It’s a big game, a special game. Once you get to the knockout stages of the Champions League it’s always important. But with it being Madrid and with Cristiano coming back, there will be a different atmosphere.

"I’m sure Cristiano will get a good reception. He did wonderful things for this club. He’s shown great respect towards the manager, the players and the fans since he left."

Real Madrid come into the second leg in good form with two impressive wins over Barcelona during the week in both the Copa del Rey and La Liga - including a comprehensive 3-1 victory at Camp Nou in the former.

"It’s not very often teams go to the Nou Camp and come away with a scoreline like that," Carrick added.

"They played some textbook counter-attacking football, absorbed the possession Barcelona had and hit them on the break.

"In many ways, that’s Madrid’s strength. With the players they have, and the spaces other teams leave, that’s what we’ll have to try to counter."

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