Real Madrid menace should strike fear into Man United

Will we see more of this at Old Trafford?

Christian Crowther reviews Barcelona's Copa del Rey exit to Real Madrid and suggests that Sir Alex Ferguson has much to fear in their Champions League second leg...

"In the aftermath of their 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, all the chatter about United's chances of qualification was understandably positive, though after this showing from Madrid, those missed chances could well come back to haunt them."

Anyone who witnessed Tuesday night's Clasico can testify what a feat of tactical mastery Jose Mourinho orchestrated in sweeping aside Barcelona.

Led by their talismanic Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, scorer of two goals on the night and a constant threat throughout, Real Madrid executed the perfect counter-attacking performance.

Mourinho's men mixed tenacity and discipline in defence with electric pace and incredible skill on the break.

Barcelona did not have any answers for Mourinho's tactics either. Lionel Messi became a peripheral figure for much of the game, and how often can we ever say that?

Players like Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira put in an almighty shift in closing Barca's midfield down but even players such as Angel Di Maria - a brilliant attacking outlet
for the whole game - tracked back to stifle the Catalans' endeavours.

Based on an away performance of this magnitude in a comparable game, there is much for Manchester United and the watching Sir Alex Ferguson to worry about for their return leg.

In the aftermath of their 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, all the chatter about United's chances of qualification was understandably positive, though after this showing from Madrid, those missed chances could well come back to haunt them.

Suddenly, keeping Real Madrid from notching more than once seems like a much tougher proposition and the market is reflective of this, rating the Spaniards as 1.84/5 favourites to progress.

So where does this leave Barcelona? Despite an immaculate La Liga campaign, it's not been plain sailing for this powerhouse of European football, now out of their domestic cup and teetering precariously after a 2-0 defeat to AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League tie.

Although Barca represent 1.321/3 favourites to win the home match with Milan, the Italians are understandably rated as 1.715/7 favourites to qualify for the last eight after shutting out the Catalans at the San Siro.

The exclusion of David Villa as a recognised striker has understandably led to criticism of assistant boss Jordi Roura, who is still filling in for Tito Vilinova while he receives further cancer treatment.

It will be interesting to see what team the coach picks for the La Liga Clasico on Saturday.

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