The irresistible force meets the immovable object on Wednesday night as Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid clash with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United at the Santiago Bernabeu in what many have classed as ‘the perfect match’, just pipping Hartlepool United v Walsall to the title.
Champions League action returned with last night’s last-16 first-leg away wins for Juventus and Paris St-Germain, but Mourinho is right when he says the world has been waiting for this encounter in the Spanish capital.
There are set to be key battles all over the field, with Wayne Rooney against Sergio Ramos, Robin van Persie against Pepe, Michael Carrick against Xabi Alonso, and the entire United backline (plus Phil Jones) against Cristiano Ronaldo.
The tie may not be decided by the result at the Bernabeu, but both teams have a good chance to put one foot in the Champions League quarter-final. A home win can be backed at 31/50, an away victory is at 18/5, while a draw is 16/5.
With an incredible 323 markets available at the time of writing, there is plenty of choice for punters, but here are five statistics which may influence your thinking.
1: The number of teams who have beaten Real Madrid at the Bernabeu since the start of the 2011/12 season. Unsurprisingly, it was Barcelona. As stipulated above, if you think United can become the second, they can be found at generous odds of 18/5.
7: Dutch hitman Van Persie has scored the opening goal of a game seven times this season and is 13/2 to do the same at the Bernabeu to give United a priceless away goal.
11: The number of goals scored over two legs the last time these two met in the Champions League in 2002/03, with the Spanish side triumphing 6-5 on aggregate (3-1 at home and 3-4 away). Both teams finding the net again a decade on looks a banker at 57/100.
15: Real Madrid scored 15 times in the group stage at an average of 2.5 per game. Only Chelsea scored more (16), while United topped their group despite having scored only nine. Mourinho’s charges are 11/20 to score two or more in the first leg.
20: Cristiano Ronaldo has scored a whopping 20 hat-tricks at Real Madrid since his world record £80m move from Old Trafford. His treble against Sevilla at the weekend was his fifth of the season and he can be backed at 18/1 to fire three or more goals against his former employers.
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