Real Madrid vs. Manchester United: Relive the 2003 2nd Leg Classic (Video)

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The big match is finally almost here. Real Madrid will host Manchester United tonight in what is probably the most anticipated UEFA Champions League match so far this season.

If history is any guide, we could be in store for a classic.

When Real and United meet, the matches tend to be entertaining. To prove it, the Daily Mirror has a rundown here, and Firstpost Sports has another here.

For our purposes, though, we're interested in the last meeting between the two famous old clubs. It came in April 2003, and it was a vintage European knockout match.

United won 4-3 in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals at Old Trafford, but Real advanced to the semifinals thanks to a 3-1 victory at home in the first leg and a 6-5 aggregate win.

"I just hope Raul doesn't like traveling, because failing that we might have to stop him coming into the country," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said (via The Guardian) after the Spanish forward dominated that first leg at the Estadio Bernabeu. "They've bought Ronaldo, Figo and Zidane, but for me the best player in the world at the moment is Raul."

It turned out that Ferguson should have been worried about Ronaldo after all. The Brazilian superstar hit a superb hat-trick as Real—led by Galacticos like Zinedine Zidane and Roberto Carlos—tore apart United's defense.

Ruud van Nistelrooy canceled out Ronaldo's early opener, and David Beckham—whose eye was stitched up following a famous confrontation with Ferguson—scored a brace, but United couldn't overcome Real's first-leg advantage.

Highlights from that eventful match appear in the clip above, which is our Set Piece Video of the Day for this Champions League Wednesday. Enjoy.

Our favorite parts include seeing all the former players from each club, like United's Beckham, van Nistelrooy and even Juan Sebastian Veron (!). For Real, of course, there's Zidane, Raul, a slightly younger-looking Vicente Del Bosque in the manager's box and a much, much younger-looking Iker Casillas in goal.

The field featured a galaxy of stars that night, and they produced a match for the ages. Will it happen again tonight?

 

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