In Depth

Man Utd v Real Madrid: Fergie promises a beautiful game

'There will be goals and both teams will score', says Sir Alex, pledging Giggs his 1,000th game

JOSE MOURINHO has promised not to cry should his Real Madrid side come a cropper at Old Trafford tonight. The Spanish giants travel to Old Trafford for the return leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, a clash Mourinho says is the most eagerly-anticipated game of the season.

Three weeks ago in the Bernabeu the first leg finished all-square at one apiece and Mourinho is expecting a thrilling denouement this evening in Manchester. "The world will stop to watch this tie," said the self-styled Special One, more smug than ever in the light of Real's two recent victories over Barcelona.

Asked to highlight area where Real might be able to exert their superiority over United, Mourinho replied: "Who knows what will make the difference in the game - it's the million-dollar question. I will not cry if we lose and I will not run 100 metres if we win."

Mourinho famously sprinted down the Old Trafford touchline when his Porto side scored a late goal to dump United out of the 2004 Champions League, but the 50-year-old says he'll be adopting a more measured approach whatever the outcome this evening.

Tonight's clash pits two of Europe's in-form teams against one another, with United unbeaten in any competition since losing to CFR Cluj on December 5, and Real well on top of their game after a slow start to the season. "Manchester United are better than ever," said Mourinho. "They have won the Premier League already and it's only March… [but] we are also in good form in 2013."

Real arrive in Manchester missing only the injured Iker Casillas, and Mourinho says the morale of the squad couldn't be stronger. "It is better to play a game like this when the players are happy and they are fine because they beat Barcelona twice… we cannot win the [Spanish] championship, but the Champions League is different."

As the Daily Telegraph reports, Alex Ferguson has urged his players not to be afraid of Cristiano Ronaldo in the light of his devastating recent form for Real. "If we go in worried about the damage Cristiano can do, we forget what we can do ourselves," he said.

United will be without injured defender Phil Jones, still recovering from an ankle injury, but otherwise Ferguson can pick from a full-strength squad, including Ryan Giggs. The 39-year-old Welshman has played 999 games for club and country and Ferguson confirmed yesterday that Giggs will be "involved at some point" during the game.

As for the match itself, Ferguson predicts it will be the beautiful game at its best. "There will be goals and I think both teams will score," he said. "Both teams are in form. As a European night I don't think you get any bigger than this one – great clubs with great histories. It is set up to be a potentially marvellous game and I don't think it will be a disappointment."

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