Real Madrid vs. Manchester United: Revisiting a Classic Game, Ronaldo Hat Trick

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2013

Two of Europe's biggest and most successful teams will clash in the UEFA Champions League this week, with Spain's reigning champions Real Madrid facing the current league leaders in England, Manchester United.

The fixture has precedent for being one of the most exciting and spectacular events in the European game, with both sides possessed of technically adept and attack-minded personnel.

For United, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie might all be key, while Real can point to Mesut Ozil, Angel di Maria and of course former Red Devil Cristiano Ronaldo.

Any of them could be a match-winner on their day, but can any match the heights reached in terms of winning this game single-handedly that former Real striker, the Brazilian phenomenon Ronaldo, managed back in 2002-03?

While United triumphed on the night, it was a Ronaldo-inspired Real Madrid team who progressed on aggregate after the striker smacked in a hat trick to leave Old Trafford stunned.

An off-the-ball run and powerful shot, good movement for a tap-in and a thunderous drive from range gave him the match ball a decade ago, as he was applauded off the pitch by both sets of supporters.

These sides remain, this season, amongst the favourites to lift the Champions League title in May. Only one can proceed from this stage of course, and given that both squads have plenty of quality, it might well be that it takes someone of a similar level of ability to have the kind of game that Ronaldo had to separate the two sides.

Whichever team that provides the player to bring that individuality could go a long way to deciding who progresses into the quarterfinals. 10 years on from Ronaldo's majestic performance, who would bet against his namesake showing up with the same trick?