Blogs & Opinion


Manchester United could exit at hands of Real Madrid, says Niall Quinn

Niall Quinn - Niall Quinn Posted 4th March 2013 view comments

Manchester United and Real Madrid go head-to-head in the game of the season on Tuesday and it's going to be a fantastic night of football.

The tie is evenly balanced; United will feel they have a slight advantage after their 1-1 draw in Madrid, while the Spanish side will be full of confidence after back-to-back wins over Barcelona.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.

Ronaldo: will cause his old team plenty of problems, says Niall

Ronaldo: will cause his old team plenty of problems, says Niall

I was delighted for United after the first game and I thought they had a good advantage with the away goal; they were very disciplined, they played well and put in a top class performance to get the result they did.

But since then I've been to Barcelona to watch Real play the Catalans in the Copa del Rey; it was Real's full strength team against Barcelona's full strength team - and it was one of the best away from home performances I've ever seen.

This game is perfectly set up for Jose Mourinho and his favoured tactics of stifling teams and then beating them on the break.

Niall Quinn
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

Borussia Dortmund v Shakhtar
7pm, Tue, Sky Sports 2 HD
Juventus v Celtic
7pm, Wed, Sky Sports 2 HD
PSG v Valencia
7.30pm, Wed Sky Sports 4 HD

Real totally frustrated Barcelona and then totally dominated them on the break with Ronaldo and co marauding at the Barcelona defence; I came home more worried for United than I was after the first leg.

This game is perfectly set up for Jose Mourinho and his favoured tactics of stifling teams and then beating them on the break.

Real need a goal and that may alter the shape of the tie, but looking at performances Mourinho's teams have come up with over the years - from Porto to Inter Milan in the Champions League - it's going to be a mammoth task for United.

In terms of the match itself it could be a game of chess with both sides not prepared to over commit or it could be one of those nights when passion and adrenaline and the levels of commitment turn it into a free-flowing attack-minded game.

I'm not sure it would suit United if it was like that; they need to slow the pace of game and start cautiously and not try to finish it off in the first 20 minutes.

If United did pull it off and progress it would be one of Sir Alex's greatest results; they could not be playing a world super team in better form - and they have to recognise that.

David de Gea came of age in the last game and his performance could determine their fate as much as any player - but I can't stress how difficult it's going to be.

If they played Real six weeks ago it might have been different but Real are in cracking form and I can see Real either taking it into extra-time and going through or getting the victory in 90 minutes.

My hunch is Real to go through - but I'd love to be wrong.

This week's other Champions League games

Borussia Dortmund got a vital equaliser right at the death in the first leg against Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine and that swung the tie in their favour.

On paper it looks the same as the Manchester United game in terms of what Dortmund have to do - but their task is easier as they're not playing Real Madrid.

Dortmund are a more than decent side at home; we saw in the group stages when they beat Real Madrid, Ajax and Manchester City on their own patch how good they can be. They looked fantastic at that stage of the tournament and I fully expect them to progress here.

Unfortunately, Celtic's tie appears to be over already; the 3-0 defeat at home to Juventus was heart-breaking for them because they would have been hoping their supporters would have inspired them to a result at Celtic Park which would have given them a chance in Italy.

I hope Celtic score first in this one because that would then make it a bit wobbly for Juventus - and the longer the game goes on without anyone scoring the more comfortable it will be for the Italian side.

But fair play to Celtic because they've had a couple of amazing performances so far in this tournament. It may be too much to ask for them to pull off another incredible result in Turin but they can look back on some fond memories.

I hope their trip to Juventus isn't in vain though, if not in terms of progressing but in terms of learning from the experience of facing one of Europe's big sides.

In years to come these Celtic players don't want to be talking about the time they were knocked out by Juventus, they want to be talking about the big teams they took on over a sustained period of time.

To do that they need to learn from this experience, but in terms of the match, I can only see a Juventus win.

The final Champions League match this week sees PSG host Valencia. The home side hold a 2-1 lead and, despite a shock defeat to 10-man Reims in Ligue 1 at the weekend, you'd expect the French side to finish the job at home.

They won't have Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their side and that's a blow - he's been in wonderful form but is paying the price for a needless late sending off in the first leg of this encounter.

However, they will have David Beckham in their squad and the former England captain will be relishing the chance to play Champions League football for the first time in a few years.

There were plenty of people criticising his move to Paris, saying it was all about his image. But he's made the PSG fans smile over there and I expect he'll be smiling too come the final whistle on Wednesday.

I'm going for PSG to progress.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Guillem Balague

Guillem: Messi has changed

Guillem Balague explains how Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are playing new roles this season....

Chris Kamara

Kammy's Weekend Review

Frank Lampard showed his class, says Kammy - but Spurs and Everton paid for European exertions....

Gary Neville

Neville: Man Utd 'soft-centred'

Gary Neville says 'soft-centred' Manchester United were 'bullied' by Leicester City in 5-3 defeat....

Latest News RSS feeds

Mata issues United apology

Juan Mata has apologised to Manchester United fans after the team's embarrassing capitulation at Leicester on Sunday.

Rodgers: Liverpool will improve

Brendan Rodgers remains hopeful that Liverpool can overcome their sluggish start, but admits he needs to lift morale.

Debuchy out for three months

Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy has been ruled out for three months after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle.

Sammon nets as Ipswich climb

Conor Sammon was on target as Ipswich defeated Wigan 2-1 at the DW Stadium to climb to seventh in the Championship.

Leeds set to unveil Milanic

Leeds United are very close to confirming Darko Milanic as their new head coach on a two-year contract.

Features

Iker Caillas: Are Real Madrid set to chop legendary Spain goalkeeper?

Iker Caillas: Are Real Madrid set to chop legendary Spain goalkeeper?

Have Real Madrid lost faith in Iker Caillas?

James Milner: Manchester City’s key man in Premier League draw with Chelsea

James Milner: Manchester City’s key man in Premier League draw with Chelsea

Although Chelsea will consider themselves unfortunate to have let their lead slip, it was fitting that James Milner provided the spark to reignite his Manchester City’s fortunes in Sunday’s draw between the two Premier League title rivals.

Mesut Ozil – Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 3: What did you think of German World Cup winner in Premier League win?

Mesut Ozil – Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 3: What did you think of German World Cup winner in Premier League win?

One minute and 19 seconds. That was the time it took for a transformation in the appraisals of Mesut Ozil.