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Mrunal Nakashe prophesizes, "2-1 to Real Madrid. Both sides should score in both legs, United will get that away goal but Los Blancos to win on the night."
Brendon Netto disagrees and cheekily adds, "2-1 to United, with Sergio Ramos to blame!"
Yours truly, on the otherhand believes Real Madrid are fully capable on punching holes in a leaky United defense, and a 3-1 win for the Los Blancos would be a likely result.
Brendon Netto feels, "I think Rooney has just kept getting sharper and sharper leading upto this game. He doesn't get too many chances from his withdrawn role but he's been quite clinical of late. I think he'll have a big impact on this game even if he doesn't score."
As your humble host, I, Ayush Srivastava feel that The motivation is ofcourse there for both camps. For United,perhaps slightly lesser, as they are looking to seal the domestic title. But Sir Alex would like nothing more than to equal Bob Paisley's record of3 European Championships before retiring. For Mourinho, only a Champions League win can save this season from going down as a complete disaster for Real Madrid, and with the "special one" taking pride in fulfilling long held goals at all his clubs, going out with the aim of "La Decima" accomplished, would be the aim.
While Brendon Netto points out, "I think the pressure is on Mourinho and Madrid. United seem to have the league wrapped up and nobody's going to criticize them for being eliminated by Madrid. The Madrid fans expect and demand that trophy. I think that kind of pressure will work in United's favour. I think if it stays 0-0 for a while or if United get the first goal, the Madrid fans could start to get a bit agitated and that affects the players."
Mrunal Nakashe mentions, "I think he will score tonight these are the kind of games he thrives in and since coing to United has found that something extra which was missing at Arsenal maybe due to their own trubulations he is a free man with less pressure he has leaders around him and doesn't real need to lead the side as he did at Arsenal."
Brendon Netto adds, "I don't think Madrid will be able to keep Van Persie from scoring tonight. This is the kind of game he was looking forward to when he decided to join United and this is where he wants to be at this stage of the season. He'll be up for this game. Madrid's defense will probably give him a few opportunities as well and he's way too clinical at the moment to pass on them"
Mrunal Nakashe says, "No Vidic is a big surprise, as you would have thought he is a shoe-in but Ferguson might feel he's not yet ready for a game of this magnitude after that injury lay-off. Welbeck is another interesting inclusion. In Ferdinand you get experience but the midfield will have to help out at the back."
Kishen Patel meanwhile thinks that Sir Alex is trying to pour water over Madrid's plans for the game, with his line-up. He commented, "Fergie is trying to frustrate Madrid with this lineup. If the score's equal till 60 then he'll throw in Valencia. Pepe shouldn't be starting either. He has just returned from a lengthy injury. Varane is a good choice since he is excellent in the air.
Stat: Madrid haven't conceded from a set piece whenever Varane was in. Apart from Kolarov's fk
Real Madrid XI v Man Utd: Diego Lopez; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao; Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema.
Manchester United XI: De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Jones, Kagawa, Carrick; Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie.
No Nemanja Vidic in Manchester United's line-up. A big set-back for the Red Devils?
Brendon Netto: Phil Jones was very helpful when United contained Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane last month and a repeat of that strategy is in order. He shouldn't exactly man-mark him like he did against Fellaini because that's just not possible with Ronaldo who is so much more mobile. I think he just has to make sure that he's not allowed a one-on-one situation with Rafael.
Ayush Srivastava: Exactly, a 2 on one situation ahs to be created, and he shouldnt be allowed space to run into, as he is the most devastating in such scenarios
Kishen Patel: Alonso has to be stopped. Everything goes thru his feet so the lesser the time he gets on the ball the better for ManU. Rafael would have to be tight. Jones/Carrick can assist. Its simple... Cut the supply from alonso and make Madrid work harder to get the ball to CR
Brendon Netto: Kagawa on the left and Welbeck on the right. A little similar to how they played against Spurs except Kagawa was played down the middle that time since Rooney was unavailable. The Japanese international has struggled with the physicality of the Premier League but Europe should be more suitable for him, he's also got plenty of energy to track ack. Welbeck is an absolute work horse and can help contain Madrid's threatening left flank. His movement and pace on the break will also be crucial. His link-up play is far better than Valencia's
Ayush Srivastava: The presence of Valencia is a must, especially in an away game, as he provides great cover to Rafael as well. We must remember, ROnaldo might start down United's right. So his presence is a must. On the other wing, Kagawa could get the nod, as he too has a good work ethic and provides good movement
Mrunal Nakashe: this is definite area of weekness for Madrid in fact that can be said for the entire backline Van Persie is in the form of his life and Madrid's back four particularly Ramos will have to play out of skin to negate the Dutchman but he shouldhave help and hand as it will most probably be a double man-marking job
Brendon Netto: Van Persie, no doubt. He is way too intelligent with his mvement for Ramos to deal with. The Spaniard has all the physical attributes but he doesn't read the game as well as he should. He often gets too tight on his man and tracks them too deep. Van Persie will take full advatage of that as he's so good at spinning away from the last man and running in behind. There can be only won victor in that battle. I fancy Ramos to make at least one telling mistake tonight.
Brendon Netto: Well again since I expect the Vidic and Ferdinand in defense for United, the pace of Benzema will always be a threat. For all their expeerience and composure, it would just take one mistake for Benzema to get in behind them and go clean through to goal.
Mrunal Nakashe: Benzema simply because I believe he is the better striker of the two and has more consistently a part of the team additioonally, he has the physical attributes and qualities to engage the United centre-back and will play a key role in bringing Ronaldo into the game as well
Ayush Srivastava: While neither have set the world alight this season, benzema with his pace and movement provides a better option as he can create the space for Ronaldo to move into, and links up well with the Portuguese.
Brendon Netto: Ferdinand and Vidic for me. There's a reason Rio was rested against Everton and this is it. They will be short of pace in central defense but that's why I expect the midfield to give them good protection. Evans still looks like he could be a liability in such a big game and in an arena like the Bernabeu no less!
Ayush Srivastava: Has to be Evans. While Ferdinand has a lot of experience, his lack of pace could be brutually exposed by the movement of the likes of Benzema, Ronaldo, Di Maria and Ozil.
First up, we ask our experts who will Sir Alex Ferguson prefer in central defense beside Nemanja Vidic. Will it be Jonny Evans or Rio Ferdinand?
Ayush Srivastava: 2-2
Brendon Netto: 2-2
Mrunal Nakashe: 1-1 for me Dortmund will get that all important away goal but wouldn't be surprised with an away win either remember this is the first competitive game for Shakhtar in a while because of their domestic break
Mrunal Nakashe: yes absolute and much like Celtic Park the atmosphere plays a key role at the Donbass Arena where croud do act as the 12th man but Dortmund wll have the edge in this respect as they have played Real away in the group stage they should be used to partisan audiences few places in football are more intimidating than the Bernebeu and Dortmund acquainted themselves well the
Except Juventus, not many teams in the past have had success against them at the Donbass arena
Is there any particular reason for that?