Manager Alex Ferguson expects Manchester United will have to score more than once to reach the Champions League quarter-finals tonight.
A goalless draw will be enough to see United advance at the expense of Real Madrid at Old Trafford following a 1-1 stalemate in the first leg three weeks ago.
Ferguson does not think that will happen, though.
“There will be goals,” he said.
“Both teams will score but we have to think we will need to score more than one.
“As a European night I don’t think you get any bigger than this one.
“It is two great clubs with great histories.
“It is set up to be a marvellous game. It won’t be a disappointment.”
It is just one of the reasons to look back on Real’s last visit to the self-styled Theatre of Dreams, an amazing occasion that finished 4-3 to United, thanks to two goals from David Beckham and a comeback that followed a hat-trick from Brazilian forward Ronaldo that earned him a standing ovation from the Stretford End.
The spectre of Ronaldo remains. Only this time it is the man who once delighted the Old Trafford faithful rather than the one who remains the highest goalscorer in World Cup history, whom Ferguson rather cruelly dismissed.
“The older one, the fatter one, peaked as a centre forward at that time,” said Ferguson.
“(Cristiano) Ronaldo is a supreme athlete. He never misses a game, has fantastic physique, two great feet, pace, he is good in the air.
“My biggest concern is if he turns up because you expect problems.
“We have to try and curtail that as best as we can. It won’t be easy because he does it every week.
“But it isn’t something we should fear. If we go in worried about the damage Cristiano can do we forget what we can do ourselves.”
The common consensus from the first leg was that United did well subduing the player they sold for a world record £80million in 2009 and who continues to be linked with a return even if Ferguson keeps dismissing it.
It is therefore a measure of Ronaldo’s ability that he scored Real’s equaliser after Danny Welbeck had given United a first-half lead, ensuring the tie remains balanced on a knife-edge.
The hosts’ hopes of repeating that relatively subdued effort from a former world player of the year have undoubtedly been hit by the loss of Phil Jones, whom Ferguson confirmed has not recovered from the ankle injury he sustained against Reading a fortnight ago.
“Phil Jones won’t be fit,” said Ferguson.
“His performance over there was absolutely excellent.
“It is a miss but we can’t deem it as something we can’t manage. We have got options. We hope we get that right.”