With what is undoubtedly the biggest game—so far—of the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid welcome Manchester Untied to the Santiago Bernabeu in their first-leg Round of 16 tie.
Prior to kickoffm much has been said by both camps, and with social media buzzing let's take a look what is doing the rounds.
It is no surprise that Cristiano Ronaldo has been made the subject of numerous comments, Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick told The Sun (via Goal.com) that the Red Devils would need three men to mark the Portuguese superstar saying:
Everyone has fond memories of Cristiano. What he's done at Madrid is incredible and he's going to take some stopping.
I think we will need two or maybe three to mark him to be honest, he's been that good for Madrid.
Because of Messi, he maybe hasn't had the pats on the back or the credit he deserves because the other guy has been winning everything there is to win but that shouldn't take away from what he has achieved at Madrid. He's a special player.
It is the match the world is waiting for.
The world is not waiting for other matches in the Champions League, so I hope we can give the world what they are waiting for.
Of course, I want to win and he wants to win, but I believe the loser will have a little bit of space to feel a little bit happy because of the friendship, but I want to win.
Caught in between two worlds, Cristiano Ronaldo's history with Manchester United has been subject to much discussion over the last few weeks, particularly whether Ronaldo will be able to put his love-affair with United to bed—for 90 minutes at least—and fire on all cylinders. Teammate Michael Essien spoke to reporters (via ESPN) about Ronaldo's build-up:
Cristiano is anxious; you want to start the game. He is in extraordinary physical condition.Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
In the Champions League it will be a different game. I'm ready and the team is as well. They have many attackers and it is up us to stop them.
They are a fantastic team. It's a great game and I can't wait for it to start. We're not scared of being knocked out. It's another great game and the players are all really excited, really looking forward to playing. We know it will be very tough.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wrote this on Eurosport ahead of the tie, "Real Madrid against Manchester United is a match-up worthy of a Champions League final. It's going to be an open game and it will be the teams' form on the night that will settle the debate."
Twitter has also been ablaze with discussion about the game. Following this morning's ties, #ucl is trending, as to is #madridmanu. Here are some comments i've picked out:
Madrid provide their own preview to the match.
United touch down in Madrid ahead of the tie. An away goal would sure be handy.
The lads touch down in Madrid..... the next stop... The Bernabèulockerz.com/s/283039831— MANCHESTER UNITED (@MUFCOFFICIAL) February 13, 2013
No, this isn't the real Mourinho, but it sure does sound like him. Nice burger analogy.
Ronaldo is getting all nostalgic ahead of kickoff.
Tomorrow we’ll play against Manchester United, a very special game for me. Don’t miss it. twitter.com/Cristiano/stat…— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) February 12, 2013
...Still a better love story than Twilight.
Look forward to see you too tomorrow @waynerooney— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) February 12, 2013
Although United have a potent attacking force, there is no denying that the likes of Ronaldo and Karim Benzema are just as good as a Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney combination. Every which way you look there is some sort of personal rivalry, layered story or piece of history to dig through in this clash.
A build-up, a match like this, was just the thing World Football needed after a week which saw it take a massive P/R hit.
Real Madrid vs. Manchester United. World Football at its best.
Enjoy the game.