Manchester United vs. Real Madrid: Win Establishes Blancos as True UCL Threat

Tim KeeneyContributor IMarch 5, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 05:  Diego Lopez of Real Madrid and his team-mates celebrate at the end of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second leg match between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford on March 5, 2013 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

The critics tend to appear when things are going good, and that has been as true as the sun is big for Real Madrid as of late. 

Los Blancos had just knocked off Barcelona—the Barcelona, the often-acclaimed best club in the world, the La Liga leaders by double-digit points—twice in a row in one of most impressive team statements in recent memory.

But apparently, beating Lionel Messi and Co. 3-1 at Camp Nou and 2-1 back home just wasn't good enough.

Sir Alex Ferguson, for one, didn't believe that immense success would carry over to European play (via ESPN):

"You get that sometimes, I've experienced it myself. You need 11 players to play well but, on odd occasions, you have 11 players who are absolutely superb.

"That's what you had the other night. They had 11 who were absolutely superb. But I don't think they'll reach that height on Tuesday. I think it was a one-off performance."

But with Ferguson's Manchester United squad leading Madrid 1-0 and 2-1 on aggregate in the second half of Tuesday night's battle, Luka Modric did this:

Then Cristiano Ronaldo, after some Gonzalo Higuain magic, did this:

Real Madrid went on to advance to the next round of the Champions League, but it will once again be met with criticism, as the sending off of Nani in the 56th minute was a poor call at best and undoubtedly changed the outlook of the match.

Nevertheless, it's time to give Los Blancos some credit. 

Both goals were extraordinary (Modric would have found the back of the net against seemingly 15 defenders in that situation) and Real Madrid controlled 63 percent of the possession, completed 84 percent of its passes to United's 72, reeled off four more shots and did it all at Old Trafford, a place not conducive to Champions League road wins (via Opta Sports):

Is it a controversial victory? Sure, but that's the way this sport goes sometimes, and it was still both a deserved and impressive win. 

And it's coming on the heels of two wins over Barcelona—not a bad little stretch.

A stretch, in fact, that proves Real Madrid is on fire right now, and if it continues to display this kind of form, it can beat anyone, anywhere in the world.