Predictions for 2nd Leg of Manchester United vs. Real Madrid
The tie at the Santiago Bernabeu might not suffice for Manchester United.
As we all know, the Red Devils tied Real Madrid in the first leg of their Round of 16 matchup. Danny Welbeck opened the score for the visitors, but Cristiano Ronaldo ensured the tie with one of the prettiest headers you'll ever see.
The two juggernauts will now battle in the Old Trafford on March 5, in what promises to be one of the most exciting games of the year.
Here are some predictions for the second leg.
Manchester United Will Score First and Quickly
When Manchester United takes the field on March 5, there will be more than 75,000 fans going berserk in the stands, cheering them on. That kind of pressure can affect the game in various different ways.
For one, expect Real Madrid to take their time to get into the game. The home team, on the other hand, will be on red alert.
It will be as if the screaming fans were shoving Red Bulls down the Red Devils' throats. Red shirts will seem like blurs on the pitch—and that will lead to a quick goal. Manchester United won't take more than 20 minutes to break the stalemate. It could be Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie—heck, it could even be Patrice Evra.
Either way, we will have a game early on, ladies and gentlemen.
Manchester United Will Not Bunker Down
Alex Ferguson is no stranger to the art of bunkering. He was more than satisfied to see his team tie the first leg, thinking it would bring some advantage to the Old Trafford. At points, we literally saw 10 players behind the ball, waiting for Real Madrid to make a move.
But Fergie is no fool.
He knows Real Madrid have to play forward now. There is no other option for them—they either score or they're out, quite simply. Ferguson will try to take advantage of that in counterattacks to dagger Real Madrid right in their throats.
Look for Ferguson to place some quick players on the wings to lead the break straight into the goal.
The Reds' manager will have his team ride the home advantage wave to get a comfortable goal lead.
Cristiano Ronaldo Will Tie
It's doubtful that Ronaldo will ask Old Trafford fans to calm down like he did in Barcelona last year, but the effect will be just the same.
Cristiano Ronaldo will tie the game for Los Blancos, and Old Trafford decibels will decrease.
Despite the goal, the Portuguese forward was much too quiet the first time these two teams met. There's no doubt he will come back with a vengeance.
Besides, there's nothing more Ronaldo likes than a good stage for a performance. It's no understatement to say the Old Trafford is one of the biggest stages of them all.
Let's just hope the goal is as aesthetically pleasant as the beauty in the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Lead Will Change at Least Twice
Boy, are we in for a dramatic game.
There is simply no way Manchester United will allow Real Madrid to simply walk over them in their own house.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be on fire, absolutely, but that won't scare the Devils. If anything, that will make them more persistent. And as they get more persistent, their fans will get louder.
Don't forget—if Real Madrid are well-equipped on offense with Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria, Manchester United have enough weapons of their own in Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.
It's not very clear who will be the next team to score, but do expect the lead to change at least a couple of times in this match, which promises to be a classic.
De Gea Will Save Manchester United More Than Once
David De Gea will pick up right where he left off in the first leg.
The Spanish amazed the world with his kicked save off Fabio Coentrao's sliding shot at the Bernabeu—and the same kind of antics will be needed if Manchester United hope to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals.
Real Madrid will be on full attack mode, but they will have to beat the skilled keeper—the last line of the United rearguard.
In the End, Real Madrid Will Win
De Gea and Fergie won't be able to save Manchester United this time.
The Red Devils will be beaten at home and forced to leave the Champions League a little sooner than they expected.
Getting the tie at the Santiago Bernabeu simply wasn't enough. Real Madrid have enough firepower to score at will in Old Trafford—and they will do just that.
The match will be a high-scoring and absurdly entertaining affair, but it will leave a bitter taste in Manchester United fans' mouths.