Between Real Madrid and Manchester United, there is plenty of Champions League experience. It was on full display during the first leg of the 2013 meetings between the two, as the match ended in a 1-1 tie at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Talent was there for all to see in the first leg of this Round of 16 match. The draw will make for one of the best Champion's League matches this season on March 5, when the two clubs will square off once more.
From the Fox Sports announcing debut of Gus Johnson to tantalizing goals from two of the game's biggest stars, this first leg had it all.
Danny Welbeck got the scoring started (and finished) for United with a brilliant header in the first half, but Cristiano Ronaldo scored an equalizer in the 30th minute (via Fox Sports) with precision and hang-time that rivaled very few goals any footballer put in the net during this 2012-13 campaign.
If not for United keeper David De Gea—who had two unbelievable saves against Real attackers—Madrid might be taking a huge advantage back to Old Trafford. Los Blancos got 28 shots overall, a staggering 14 on target, and yet will not take what could have been a decisive advantage into the March 5 second leg.
According to ESPN's Paul Carr, Madrid is already a favorite:
Paul Carr @PCarrESPN
Soccer Power Index sims say Real Madrid is a 55.2% favorite to advance over Manchester United.2/13/2013, 10:03:14 PM
It's no surprise after Wednesday's match, especially since Madrid dominated the field for most of the first match. Sir Alex Ferguson did manage to keep the Madrid attackers at bay for most of the second half, but there were plenty of chances (including a Ronaldo 40-footer) that went just wide and kept this match in a draw.
While Madrid might have all the momentum, the Red Devils stepped up, got a road goal and left with a tie—which is more than anyone would have expected after watching the match and checking the stats.
The one saving grace for United appears to be that of Madrid's history, which doesn't bode well Jose Mourinho's club during its next match. BBC Sport provided us with this important tweet that will likely be a huge motivational factor for Los Blancos:
BBC Sport @BBCSport
Some good news for Manchester United - Real Madrid have won only 1 of their last 5 games in England (1-0 at Tottenham, 2011). #bbcfootball2/13/2013, 10:17:00 PM
The Wednesday match marked the soccer debut of Fox's Gus Johnson, making a transition into the sport as he prepares to call the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. While it was a mixed bag (as noted by Andrew Das of The New York Times), it wasn't a disaster, and I'd wager there's a good chance Fox sends him to Old Trafford for leg No. 2.
From Johnson to the star-powered lineups these two clubs employ, things are looking up when it comes to March 5. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie had a quiet first leg for United, and Ronaldo returning to his former stomping grounds should rile up the Old Trafford faithful.
Mark your calendars, football fans. March 5 will be one of the best matches that this year's Champion's League has to offer.
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