Glamour clash - Madrid vs United

Real Madrid and Manchester United's European Champions Cup quarterfinal first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday is a glamorous match-up between th

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Real Madrid and Manchester United's European Champions Cup quarterfinal first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday is a glamorous match-up between the world's two most famous football clubs. Defending champion Madrid has won the continent's top club competition a record nine times, while United, which has won the trophy twice, is the wealthiest club on earth. The powerhouses have been paired three times previously in the Champions Cup, with the victorious team always going on to win the competition. "This is a game between two teams with great world prestige and who have been leaders in the sport over recent years. Although we have dominated in Europe, Manchester has been right up there. It has great players," Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque said on Monday. The Spanish club's captain Fernando Hierro said that the teams' similar offensive styles promised an attractive encounter. "Both of us go out to attack right from the first minute. Attacking is the philosophy which unites us. Neither of us likes to play for a result. This makes the game, in theory, one of the best matches you can see in Europe". Past record The teams first met in 1957 when Madrid defeated United 5-3 on aggregate in the semifinals and went on to lift the trophy for the second time. The second encounter in 1967-68 brought a 4-3 semifinal victory for the English giant, which gained its first European triumph a month later. The most recent pairing came in the quarterfinals three years ago when Madrid won 3-2 at Old Trafford to eliminate defending champion United. Again Madrid emerged as champion. Team changes While del Bosque and his United counterpart Alex Ferguson are still in charge, only five players from each starting lineup remain from the goalless first leg in Madrid in 2000. Madrid retains goalkeeper Iker Casillas, defenders Michel Salgado, Ivan Helguera and Roberto Carlos, together with striker Raul Gonzalez. Hierro, now 35, was injured then but is set to play on Tuesday. United has kept right back Gary Neville, midfielders Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and winger Ryan Giggs. Since then, both teams have added an array of world-class stars. The election of Florentino Perez as Madrid's president in July 2000 has led to the signings of three of the game's biggest names - Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo. United has incorporated 'keeper Fabian Barthez, midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and defender Rio Ferdinand. Van Nistelrooy, who joined United from PSV Eindhoven two seasons ago, is the leading scorer in this season's Champions League with 10 goals. The Dutch international has netted a club-record 22 goals in 23 Champions League appearances for United. The Madrid coach is expected to select a full-strength side on Tuesday. News reports on Monday indicated United would be without Veron, who has a knee injury, and suspended midfielder Phil Neville. United's Irish captain Keane made his return on Saturday in the 4-0 victory over Liverpool after missing the previous five games with a hamstring problem. The winner will play either Juventus or FC Barcelona in the semifinal. United has an added incentive, as the final on May 28 will be at Old Trafford. (AP)