It’s a huge night in the Champions League. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have spent all day humming the theme song. Well, the theme song and a bit of One Direction to be precise.
Now obviously UEFA’s propaganda machine has programmed us to think ‘wow – Budućnost Podgorica v Śląsk Wrocław in the second qualifying round – that’s a hugely important game’, but this one of those times when we don’t need the subliminal promptings from Michel Plantini’s brain.
It’s Real Madrid versus Manchester United. The Special One versus the Special Watch-tapper. It’s a biggie and I’ll be here for the evening to keep you up to date on all the latest happenings. So if you’re away from the TV, think Twitter is mainly for professional footballers to send photos of their genitals and like a dollop of sarcasm with your live commentary, this is the place for you.
Feel free to leave your comments, observations and jokes I can steal in the comments section below.
REAL MADRID 1 – 1 MANCHESTER UNITED
9.57pm: Redknapp calls Sergio Ramos ‘a squid’ and Peter Schmeichel starts giggling like he’s four and someone just shouted out ‘willy’ in class. On that rather silly note, I’ll say good night.
9.53pm: Jamie Redknapp is bashing the ref, especially for that inconclusive Varane/Evra tangle. The ref should get the chance to watch Redknapp’s punditry and pass comment on him.
9.48pm: Peter Schmeichel is heaping the praise on David De Gea. ‘If anyone can find a fault with him in tomorrow’s papers, I’ll be amazed says United’s Great Dane, blindly ignoring that attempt at a beard of his.
9.36pm: FULL TIME! The ref doesn’t allow United time to take the corner. The players are furious, but in reality they don’t even know they’re born. Somehow, despite conceding 28 shots on goal, they’ve come away with a draw and given themselves a great chance of reaching the quarters.
There were heroes throughout the defence. De Gea, Evans, Ferdinand, Jones – basically everyone who isn’t called Rafael. He was pants and a real weakness throughout.
9.35pm: SAVE! The Real defence again seem to ignore RVP and his shot is saved low down by Lopez.
9.32pm: We’ve got three minutes of Fergie-time.
9.29pm: BOOKING! Antonio Valencia gets a yellow card for a fairly innocuous elbow that ended up in Sergio Ramos’s face. He could probably justify some ‘going to ground and clutching his face’ after that one.
9.26pm: SUB! United replace heavyweight with heavyweight. A tired looking Rooney comes off and a ‘cuddly’ Anderson comes on.
Ronaldo belts a free kick from about 40 yards out that lands on the roof of the net, much to United’s relief.
9.25pm: SUB! The Special One makes his final change. In a decision almost as curious as that snood, he takes off Xabi Alonso replaces him with the headcase that is Pepe.
9.22pm: 10 minutes plus Fergie-time to go. The odds are Real: 15/8 Draw: 4/6 United: 7/1
9.21pm: SAVE! Khedira has a snapshot from the edge of the box and De Gea makes a sharp and assured stop.
Real regather themselves and win a corner that they’ll probably waste.
9.20pm: Higuain gets a weak shot at the United goal, but not letting the tameness of the shot daunt him, De Gea makes a save that’s only slightly more theatrical than it needs to be.
9.17pm: SUB! It’s a slightly odd change as the impressive Angel Di Maria gets the hook and Gail Platt aka Luka Modric gets a run out.
9.15pm: SUB! Welbeck comes off and Antonio Valencia replaces him.
9.13pm: CROSSBAR AND GOALINE CLEARANCE! RVP hits the bar via the hands of Diego Lopez and in the next phase of play fluffs a great chance to score about beating the offside trap and being left alone 10 yards out. The shot squirms over the keeper, but Alonso gets back to save Real’s bacon.
9.12pm: A good block from Rio Ferdinand denies Ronaldo, although it’s hard to know if the shot was going to threaten De Gea’s goal.
9.10pm: Wayne Rooney plays physio as he tries to clear up Danny Welbeck’s case of non-existent cramp. Rio Ferdinand just kicks Welbeck, which certainly isn’t a prescribed treatment I’m familiar with.
9.07pm: SUB! Fergie makes a switch, bringing on 108 year old Ryan Giggs for Shinji Kagawa who hadn’t done much tonight.
9.05pm: It’s a similar pattern to the first half. Real dominating possession, but United not looking toothless either. The odds – Real: Evens Draw: 7/5 United: 11/2
9.02pm: SAVE! Another good save from David De Gea as United’s attempts to park the bus go awry. Coentrao gets on the end of a cross, but the United goalkeeper gets a leg to the miscued shot to keep it out.
9.01pm: SUB! Jose makes his first change as Gozanlo Higuain comes on for Karim Benzema.
8.56pm: Patrice Evra claims he was fouled by Varane, but the referee waves away the appeals. United are upset, but it’s a bit of a tangle and dare I say it, an understandable call. ‘The referee could have done better for Manchester United’ says Gary Neville with the total impartiality he’s famed for.
8.54pm: Di Maria has a pop from about 20 yards out. De Gea is secure, but only in that ‘you never feel he’s totally secure’ sort of way.
Di Maria tries again seconds later with a volley from the edge of the box that goes jut wide with De Gea looking on like a specatator.
8.53pm: Phil Jones takes down Ronaldo. Jose is furious on the sidelines, but it’s hard to pull of ‘stylish rage’ when you’re wearing a snood/suit combination.
8.50pm: United have made slight changes to their formation, but Real are adopting the tactics they used in the first half – namely the ‘give it to Ronaldo and hopes he does something’ approach.
8.48pm: United start the second half. It’s been finger in the dyke stuff from them in the first half, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting results in the past. Within the first minute they create a half-chance that should have been a whole chance as Welbeck fails to get his head on a decent cross.
8.35pm: I probably should have promoted this earlier, but with the threat of the Sky Sports pundits looming, now is as good a time as any. Here’s Graham Hunter’s excellent piece on Real Madrid and Ronaldo.
8.32pm: HALF TIME! And for once a game lives up to the lavish hype Sky Sports throw at it. It’s been brilliant, high tempo, electric stuff from both teams. Real are dominating in terms of chances created, but United aren’t without an attacking threat of their won. It’s been fascinating so far and as long as Jamie Redknapp doesn’t suck the will to live out of us during half-time, we’re in store for another excellent 45 minutes.
8.31pm: Another headed chance for Ronaldo. He gets it all wrong this time, so wrong in fact it hits his shoulder and goes wide.
8.29pm: Two minutes of added time to be played at the end of a cracking first half.
8.25pm: PENALTY SHOUT! Angel Di Maria goes on a slalom run and goes down under a challenge from Phil Jones. Bizarrely, the referee seems to make the signal for a push, but doesn’t point to the spot. It’s probably the right call, but even though this isn’t Franco era Spain, you don’t want to do that too often at the Bernabau. Real are really turning the screw now.
8.24pm: BOOKING! Rafael da Silva has had a rough night so far and he rightly goes into the book for dragging down a threatening looking Ozil. And that’s not a gag about his eyes. Why would anyone mock those totally freakish eyes?
8.22pm: SAVE! De Gea is called into action again to save a shot from Mesut Ozil. It’s the 60 yard ball from Xabi Alonso that’s will get most of the drooling however. Great stuff from the man with the sweetest right peg and burliest beard in football.
8.18pm: CHANCE! Danny Welbeck gets his studs on the end of a cross and it squirms wide of the far post for a corner. From that corner, Rooney shoots low and wide. United have been on the back foot, but they’re certainly carrying a threat on the counter. They’re now 9/2 to win tonight and it doesn’t look like the worst of bets based on Real’s defending.
8.14pm: GOAL! RONALDO! He’s already gone close, but he gets it right for the equaliser. He hangs in the air like an airship to get on the end of a Di Maria cross and his firm header beats De Gea. Great stuff from the well preened one.
8.13pm: Real win a free-kick on the edge of the United box. To no-one’s surprise, Ronaldo has a shot. His first effort ends up in van Persie’s face, but his first time rebound fizzes just wide.
8.10pm: An ill-advised handball from RVP, particularly when he’s already on a yellow. He gets away with conceding a free-kick about 80 yards from the United goal. Ronaldo is probably still considering a shot.
8.07pm: De Gea makes another save, but this one is slightly less spectacular. Real can make nothing of the resulting corner.
8.03pm: GOAL! United take the lead!! Danny Welbeck takes advantage of some ineffective defending to head United into the ascendancy A huge goal for the tie.
8.01pm: There’s a bit of flapping at a corner from De Gea, but the danger is cleared. For the moment. Real are applying a lot of pressure.
7.56pm: Real are committing a lot of men forward. At times so far, it looks like they’re playing a most un-Mourinho-like 2-3-5.
7.50pm: Coentrao hits the post with a low shot from the edge of the area. David De Gea did brilliantly to touch it onto the woodwork. Ramos heads over and Kagawa gets played in over the top, but can’t control and the chance goes to waste.
7.49pm: YELLOW CARD! Robin van Persie falls victim to a great bit of acting from Sergio Ramos. His hand did catch Ramos’s face, but very softly and like a hooker with very low rates, it didn’t take much for him to go down.
7.48pm: Angel Di Maria shoots wide. De Gea looks like he had it covered, but knowing him, that doesn’t always count for much.
7.46pm: Real play some nice football and carve out a half-chance for Sami Khedira, but he takes his on-going Milan Baros impression to its logical conclusion by shanking his shot harmlessly wide.
7.45pm: Real Madrid kick off amid a bubbling atmosphere. May the less defensively suspect team win.
7.44pm: If you’re a United fan and you need the reassurance of a former player telling you’re going to win, you’re in luck. Paul McGrath and Edwin van der Sar provide a quickfire bonanza.
Manchester utd 2beat real madrid two one come on fergie job to do lets get it done 🙂
— Paul McGrath (@Paulmcgrath5) February 13, 2013
— Edwin van der Sar (@vdsar1970) February 13, 2013
7.41pm: The teams walk out onto the pitch and are currently shaking hands. No hissy fits to report.
7.37pm: Guillem Balague gives his verdict on tonight’s game:
Not much separating both sides. Strong populated midfield. Curious about Jones/Ronaldo encounter. Key: Ozil finding spaces between lines
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) February 13, 2013
I’m sure lots of United fans are ‘curious’ about how Jones will handle Ronaldo. If by ‘curious’ we mean ‘shitting it’.
7.29pm: The Sky Sports team are talking absolute shite right now, so what better time to try a light corporate sales pitch on you?
If you haven’t already heard about great Money-Back Special yet, where have you been? Paddy Power will refund all losing First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, Correct Score and Scorecast singles if Manchester United win this match. Now blindly rush to this part of cyberspace to take advantage of our foolish generousity – MATCH BETTING
7.22pm: Robin van Persie is on pre-recorded interview duty now. About being at United he says:
I’m seeing things I haven’t seen for years
Things like ‘a trophy’, we’re assuming.
7.21pm: Despite being giants of European football, meetings between these teams are rarer than legible tweets from Rio Ferdinand. When they do meet however, it’s generally pretty special and here’s Eric Cantona getting paid loads of money to act weird and show you (fat) Ronaldo’s cracking hat-trick at Old Trafford back in 2003.
7.12pm: Jamie Redknapp sets the ‘talking shite about stuff he knows nothing about’ high with a bizarre rant about the Spanish players having egos and not liking Jose basically because he’s not Spanish or Ronaldo because he scores loads of goals for them.
7.09pm: Wow! I can’t believe they didn’t edit that out when they had the chance. Jeff Shreeves dials up the cringe by asking ‘In meeting Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s almost like meeting your son and your grandson’. Fergie looks very embarrassed by the lameness of the question and goes an even redder shade of red than he normally is.
7.05pm: It’s pre-recorded interview time and Sir Alex describes the two clubs are the ‘most romantic in the world’. By which he means they both like to make mix-tapes featuring ‘I Swear’ by All 4 One if they’re following my understanding of romance.
7.03pm: Ex-Real and United striker, Ruud van Nistelrooy is being interviewed. He just looks relieved not to have ended up a Tesco shelf following the recent horsemeat scandal.
6.59pm: Former United goal machine and DIYer, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored an incredible 33 goals in 34 appearances this season. But there are concerns he has been too focussed on his love-life in the build-up to this match after photos were leaked of his first Valentine’s card:
6.45pm: TEAM NEWS
We’re an hour away from kick-off at the Bernabau, but the teams have been extra punctual with getting their teams in. If UEFA awarded a goal for excellent administrative skills (and that’s not the worst idea they’d ever have had), it’d be 1-1.
First up, it’s Real and the Special One has named a familiar looking team. 19 year old Raphael Varane starts in defence, but that’s not actually a surprise after recent weeks. Up front, Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema are the attackers Cristiano Ronaldo will largely not be passing to.
Diego Lopez, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao, Arbeloa, Khedira, Ozil, Xabi Alonso, Di Maria, Ronaldo, Benzema
Sir Alex has left Nemanja Vidic out of the team in a surprise that’s not hugely surprising. He goes with an attacking minded team featuring the trinity of RVP, Rooney and Welbeck up front and Kagawa on ‘loitering ominously’ duty.
De Gea, Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Jones, Kagawa, Carrick, Welbeck, Rooney, Van Persie