Bernabeu

The world is waiting. Manchester United will face Real Madrid on Wednesday night at the Bernabeu, and some of the best players in the world will be on show, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie seen as the key men for each team.

Manchester United are currently sitting top of the English Premier League, 12 points clear of close rivals and current champions Manchester City, whilst the Spanish giants are sitting third, 16 points adrift of Barcelona. League form and statistics are crucial in analysing games, but when it’s a European clash like this anything can happen.

With players such as Wayne Rooney, Karim Benzema, Antonio Valencia, Xabi Alonso, Michael Carrick, Angel Di Maria, Nemanji Vidic, and Sergio Ramos all set to be included in some way, the game is going to deliver something special.

The last time these two teams met in a competitive fixture was back in 2003 where Madrid won 6-5 over the two legs, but this time the stats are on United’s side and here are five that could lead to Sir Alex’s men qualifying…

5. Ronaldo Played 292 GamesFor Manchester United

Cristiano Ronalso

You’re probably thinking ‘how does this help Manchester United?’ Well, those 292 games were watched, studied and guided by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: the Scot encouraged Ronaldo, altered his play and made him stronger. And in short, if anyone knows how to contain and defeat Ronaldo its Sir Alex.

Cristiano Ronaldo was bought from Sporting Lisbon back in 2003, and for every single second Ronaldo played on that pitch, Sir Alex was watching. With United having already started preparing for the clash with Madrid, United’s defence will be on full alert for Ronaldo and they will come prepared with ways to keep him away from the net.

The Red Devils’ last disappointing defensive display was against Newcastle back on Boxing Day last year, when they conceded three goals. Seven games later and United’s back four have conceded just three goals, with De Gea keeping four clean sheets. United’s preparation to prevent Madrid’s attack is almost complete.

United will no doubt concede at some point over the two legs, but Ronaldo could easily be shut out if United stick to their plan.

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This article was first posted on February 11, 2013