As the clock counts down to arguably the biggest game of the football year so far, especially for Manchester United fans, speculation is mounting over who we will see taking to the pitch for United’s Champions League clash with Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. The size of the game isn’t up for debate – this is probably the biggest Champions League game of the season, aside from the final, and for neutral fans it is a shame the two didn’t meet at that slightly grander stage.
And that team news speculation has already started, with Spanish newspaper Marca claiming (via MailOnline) that they have the team that Mourinho will send out at the Bernabeu to take on Manchester United on Wednesday night.
It’s hardly a surprise to see that Cristiano Ronaldo would lead the attacking line in this line-up, as the Portuguese former United player is in hot form – again scoring a hat-trick this weekend. But Marca say that Mourinho will have no place for former Spurs player Luka Modric, Michael Essien or Kaka in his starting team, and that his XI will be as follows:
Diego Lopez, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Angel di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema
That would see returns to the starting line up for Pepe, Ozil, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Benzema after all were left out for the 4-1 home victory against Sevilla on Saturday night. Michael Essien, Raul Albiol, Luka Modric, Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain would be the players cut from the team to make way for the returning players.
Pepe only made his return from injury with a 25-minute role against Sevilla, after ankle surgery, but Marca see that as enough to bring him into the side against United, especially as Raphael Varane is struggling for fitness. Marca also suggest Michael Essien could be considered at right-back, with Arbeloa shifting to the left, as Mourinho set the team out for the recent Copa del Rey ‘Clasico’ with Barcelona.
But that is apparently the only possible deviation from Marca’s team.
If this is indeed true, United know exactly what they are set to come up against: Madrid will have considerable firepower on the pitch, and Sir Alex Ferguson may need to consider playing Phil Jones n the same position he did against Tottenham to cancel the threat of Gareth Bale, in order to cope with Cristiano Ronaldo. That much would be true regardless of who else will start for Madrid.
Do you think United will cope with Madrid? Share your thoughts below in the comments.
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This article was first posted on February 11, 2013