Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford for the first time in three years after Manchester United have been drawn against Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League, in what is probably the most glamorous tie out of the Nyon draw.
It’s only the fourth time United and Real Madrid have been drawn together in the European Cup. In 1957, United lost the first leg of the semifinal 3-1 at Santiago Bernabeu and could only draw 2-2 at home. In 2000 the two sides met in the quarter finals with defending champions United holding out for a 0-0 draw in Madrid before succumbing to a 3-2 defeat at home, while three years later, at the same stage, United lost 3-1 in Madrid before a spectacular but ultimately fruitless 4-3 win at home.
Manchester United once again extended their 6 point lead over nearest rivals Manchester City with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Old Trafford. Roberto Mancini’s side had reduced the lead by half earlier this afternoon as they too won 3-1 against their north-east opponents.
Robin van Persie’s 12th Premier League goal of the season on sixteen minutes was the first in a three minute double salvo for the Red Devils as Tom Cleverley quickly made it two goals to nil. Wayne Rooney wrapped up the win with a second half tap-in before Frazier Campbell scored on his return to Old Trafford to keep up United’s miserable record of only two clean sheets at home so far this season.
After the last minute heroics of last week’s Manchester derby, united will be wary
of complacency on entering this weekend’s much less glamorous fixture against
Sunderland. With a seemingly straightforward winter schedule, Sir Alex will be
emphasising the importance of keeping their foot on the gas to put pressure on City
in this year’s two Club race for Premier League glory.
United are a top priced 1.22 with Coral to beat Sunderland at Old Trafford, and it looks a case of how many they will win by.
The calm after the storm has made for an enjoyable week for many Reds left taunting their blue counterparts thanks to Robin van Persie’s late defected winner at The Etihad last Sunday afternoon.
This weekend sees Sunderland – a team deep in trouble with a manager under pressure – travel to Old Trafford to take on a United whose manager will be desperately hoping his troops do not suffer from a Derby Day hangover.
United have been made 5/1 ON favourites to beat Sunderland on Saturday and Betegy.com make them their ‘Recommended Bet’ of the weekend.
Among the many talking points offered by the 164th Manchester derby that were unfortunately overshadowed by the melee that followed Robin Van Persie’s dramatic late winner, there was the sensation that United might have taken a much-needed step towards the future.
Sir Alex Ferguson has recently often been criticised for what some consider an unneccessary willingness to adopt turn-over. United have flirted heavily with a diamond formation this season, in a desperate attempt to finally solve the terminal illness that has blighted their midfield for a long time.
“93:20″, the time in which Sergio Aguero sealed the premier league title from the hands of their Mancunian rivals was hung high in the stands of the Etihad and will forever be remembered in City folklore. However, the game yesterday will not be remembered so dearly to the ones in blue as Robin van Persie scored the winner through a free-kick via a deflection off Samir Nasri’s shin that looped over and into the corner of Joe Hart’s net. This one was settled at “91:45″ and will go down in United’s folklore as one of the most exciting Manchester derbies.
A last minute winner in a derby should always be the main story in the days following the game. Even more so when it’s snatched in dramatic circumstances away from home, against the defending champions who haven’t lost in their last 37 league matches played on their own turf.