The nine-time champions are fancied to get the better of United but Lee Dixon has faith that Sir Alex Ferguson's in-form side can secure a good result in the Spanish capital...
Manchester United can deny Real Madrid a home win with a memorable Champions League performance at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.
Even by United's standards this has been an exceptional season, and I genuinely think they can hold Jose Mourinho's Madrid in their own backyard.
The Spanish club are going through one of their periodic episodes of upheaval and have chucked in a few stinkers in the Primera Division this season. By contrast, everything is going United's way on the domestic front, while they qualified with minimum fuss in the Champions League, though admittedly from an easy group.
At 1.654/6 Real Madrid are a lay for me, and I imagine one or two punters will be looking at the 5.79/2 on an away win and finding it very tempting indeed. Ultimately though I think Sir Alex will be happy with a draw.
It's not going to be easy of course. Despite trailing Barcelona by an enormous 16 points in the league, Madrid have only dropped points in two of their 11 home matches this season thanks to draws with Espanyol and Valencia.
So, yes, they're very, very strong at home but United are a pretty effective team on the road - as evidenced by nine Premier League away wins - and Champions League knockout matches are not run-of-the-mill affairs.
The Opta stats point to goals - Real have failed to keep a clean sheet in this year's competition while eight European Cup/Champions League encounters between Real Madrid and Manchester Utd have produced 31 goals - yet I think it's worth backing under 2.5 at the odds.
Everyone is expecting a corker with action at either end but sometimes these games can be anticlimactic and I actually think it could be pretty tight. Neither team wants to lose this tie in the first leg, both possess decent defences and Ferguson and Mourinho can keep it tight when needs be. At 2.486/4 I'm content to back unders.
I may be left with egg on my face of course as there are potential match winners all over the pitch and no-one will attract as much attention as Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. The joint top scorer in the group stages with six goals and 33 in all competitions is the home side's major threat and will clearly be pumped up for the visit of his former club.
Gary Neville has put him as the 'most influential United player of all time' and who am I to argue with the great man? It makes such a difference to have played in the same team, to have viewed that sort of talent up close and on the ball.
After all that praise it seems a little perverse to suggest Phil Jones can do a job on the Portuguese attacker, but Sir Alex has deployed the England man in similar roles recently with Gareth Bale one of his notable victims.
A good performance from Jones could be the bedrock of United securing a memorable result in Madrid and I firmly believe they can achieve that.