When: Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Estadio Bernabeu, Madrid
Group stage: Real Madrid finished second in Group D behind Borussia Dortmund; Manchester United won Group H
This is it, "the match the world is waiting for," according to Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho (via Daily Telegraph). Really, it's hard to argue with him.
Real Madrid won Spain's La Liga last season, beating out Barcelona, but this season Mourinho and company are struggling domestically. Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, now 28, faces the club at which he made his name and took his first steps toward superstardom.
United lead the Premier League table by a whopping 12 points over defending champions Manchester City, but that doesn't mean the Red Devils have taken it easy lately. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson selected a strong team at the weekend against Everton. The decision paid off with a 2-0 victory, but the question remains whether United's squad will be fresh in Madrid.
Real have not kept a clean sheet in the Champions League this year, but United have never won away to Real Madrid in four matches (via Yahoo! Eurosport).
Ferguson says the pressure is on Real (via ESPN FC), and he's probably right. But Ronaldo enters the match with momentum after hitting a hat-trick at the weekend. Adding extra spice to the match is the history of exciting encounters in England between Mourinho's Chelsea and Ferguson's United. The two now consider each other friends.
Prediction: The last time these clubs met in this competition, the 2002-03 quarterfinals, Real escaped with a 6-5 aggregate victory over two legs. With both teams boasting so much firepower, another shootout is likely in store. Despite their struggles, Real could be dangerous at home. Real Madrid 3, Manchester United 2