Tag Archives: ladyman

Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup replay on Easter Monday, April 1

April duel day: Chelsea and United will replay FA Cup tie on Easter Monday (and both teams will play twice in 48 HOURS)

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

14:58 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:33 GMT, 13 March 2013

Manchester United and Chelsea will replay their FA Cup tie at 12.30pm on Easter Monday, April 1 at Stamford Bridge.

It means Chelsea's Barclays Premier League game against Southampton, scheduled for Easter Sunday, has been moved forward a day to Saturday March 30, kick-off 3pm.

This means Chelsea and United will play two games within the space of 48 hours as the Premier League leaders are playing at Sunderland at 12.45pm on the Saturday.

To be announced: Eden Hazard (left) celebrates on his way to earning Chelsea the replay causing the chaos

To be announced: Eden Hazard (left) celebrates on his way to earning Chelsea the replay causing the chaos

RE-ARRANGED DATES

Southampton v Chelsea, Saturday March 30, 3pm

West Ham v Manchester United, Wednesday April 17, 7.45pm

The replay date will play havoc with TV schedules because Chelsea's game at Southampton was meant to be live.

A statement from the FA said: 'Following consultation with all relevant stakeholders, The FA can confirm that The FA Cup with Budweiser Sixth Round Proper Replay between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge will take place on Easter Monday 1 April, live on ITV. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.'

The winners will face Manchester City in the semi-finals.

Easter weekend was always the most likely time for the replay to be take place.

The two-week international break
starting next Monday meant there were not many opportunities to fit the game
in before the Wembley semi-final weekend on April 13 and 14.

UEFA rules that forbid domestic games
taking place on the same night as Champions League or Europa League
games are only served to complicate the matter.

The decision means Chelsea's Barclays
Premier League fixture with Southampton, which had been due to take
place on Easter Sunday, will now take place a day earlier and with a 3pm
kick-off.

Close-run: United's Wayne Rooney (left) and Chelsea midfielder Ramires do battle the first time around

Close-run: United's Wayne Rooney (left) and Chelsea midfielder Ramires do battle the first time around

Chelsea's fixture pile-up

March 14 (h) v Steaua Bucharest (Europa League)
March 17 (h) v West Ham (Premier League)
March 18-27 international break
March 30 (a) v Southampton (Premier League)
April 1 (h) v Manchester United (FA Cup quarter-final replay)
April 4 (TBC) Europa League quarter-final first leg.
April 6/7 (h) v Sunderland (Premier League)
April 11 (TBC) Europa League quarter-final second leg.
April 13 & 14 FA Cup semi-final weekend.

Finding a suitable date for the fixture proved challenging due to Chelsea's involvement in the Europa League and the confirmed FA Cup semi-final dates of April 13 and 14.

It had been expected the FA would wait to see if Chelsea advance in the Europa League tomorrow before determining a date.

They must overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit to the Romanians to reach the Europa League quarter-finals.

The rescheduling means Chelsea and Manchester United, who visit Sunderland on March 30, play their Premier League matches on the same day, but has irked Southampton.

A statement on Southampton's official website read: 'The game had already been moved once for the purposes of live Sky TV coverage – to Sunday, March 31 – however, the Premier League have deemed it acceptable to move the fixture once more.

'The club is extremely disappointed that this decision has been taken; not least because of the significant inconvenience a second change to the fixture will cause our supporters.'

Luka Modric wants to join Manchester United from Real Madrid

Exclusive: Modric eyes move to Manchester United… just days after sending them packing in the Champions League

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 11 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:01 GMT, 12 March 2013

Manchester United’s Champions League heartbreaker Luka Modric still has his heart set on a move to Old Trafford.

Real Madrid star Modric smashed in a wonder goal to help the Spanish champions beat United on a controversial night of European drama in Manchester a week ago.

Now it has emerged that the 27-year-old Croatian midfielder still harbours dreams of a move back to the Barclays Premier League with United.

Heartbreaker: Luka Modric's goal sent Real Madrid through at the expense of Manchester United

Heartbreaker: Luka Modric's goal sent Real Madrid through at the expense of Manchester United

Modric was high on the wishlist of United boss Sir Alex Ferguson two summers ago as he tried to replace Paul Scholes. But United were put off by the prospect of another summer of haggling with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, with whom they clashed over the purchase of Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.

Modric eventually left White Hart Lane for Real in a 33m deal last summer but has not been a guaranteed starter in Jose Mourinho’s team and his goal at Old Trafford last week was only his second of a difficult season. The diminutive midfielder is not in a rush to quit Real but did let it be known when in Manchester last week that he would be very keen on a future switch to Old Trafford.

Since missing out on Modric first time round, United have of course bought Japanese international Shinji Kagawa.

Exposed Modric has found first-team football difficult to secure at Real, where Mesut Ozil is a rival for his place

Exposed Modric has found first-team football difficult to secure at Real, where Mesut Ozil is a rival for his place

Nevertheless, Scholes is expected to retire this summer, Ryan Giggs has perhaps just a season left and Wayne Rooney will attract strong interest from PSG and Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

Still only 27, Modric is young enough to tempt Ferguson, who has been a huge admirer since he first arrived in England from Dynamo Zagreb in 2008.

United, meanwhile, are still waiting to find out if defender Rio Ferdinand will be punished by the FA for an off-the-ball clash with Fernando Torres during Sunday’s 2-2 FA Cup draw with Chelsea.

Controversial: Rio Ferdinand is waiting to hear if he'll be punished by the FA

Controversial: Rio Ferdinand is waiting to hear if he'll be punished by the FA

The FA are likely to make a decision this morning while Ferdinand himself has warned that United cannot let their Champions League setback affect the rest of the season.

He said: ‘That won’t happen. We will go into training and start working towards the weekend. Cup competitions are different from the league. We know what we have to do.’

Wayne Rooney set for Manchester United exit with Paris Saint-German and Manchester City lurking

Rooney fights for his United future as 20m bid might tempt fed-up Ferguson to sell

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

22:31 GMT, 6 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:11 GMT, 7 March 2013

Wayne Rooney is facing a desperate fight to save his Manchester United career as manager Sir Alex Ferguson continues to harbour grave doubts about his fitness and attitude.

Ferguson stunned football by dropping the England forward to the bench for Tuesday night's Champions League defeat against Real Madrid at Old Trafford.

The United manager believes Rooney has failed to get on top of the weight and fitness issues that have dogged him since the start of the season and is fed up with waiting for an improvement.

Wayne Rooney

Benched: Wayne Rooney started Tuesday night's game as a substitute after he was axed by Sir Alex Ferguson

Close to the boss Rooney started the match on the bench - sitting just in front of Sir Alex Ferguson

Axed: Rooney's relationship with his manager is said to be tense after a difficult season at Old Trafford

With Rooney, 27, entering the final two years of his contract this summer, Ferguson knows he has a decision to make about his future.

As it stands, the Scot will not rule out selling him at the end of the season if the club can attract a bid of more than 20million.

Sources in both camps have told Sportsmail that the relationship between the pair has been tense for some time and shows no signs of getting better. Senior players say privately that they can sense it at the training ground on a daily basis.

Rooney acknowledges that he and Ferguson have not been on the best of terms for much of this season but disputes suggestions that he has not looked after himself.

Super-rich Paris Saint-Germain have an interest in Rooney, while United's neighbours Manchester City would take the former Everton star in an instant if they thought their rivals would sell to them.

City tried to buy Rooney in the autumn of 2010, prompting United to raise their wage ceiling to keep him.

His former United and England team-mate Michael Owen told talkSPORT: 'It's got to be a big worry for Rooney. It's the biggest game of the season and the manager has shuffled his pack and not included him.

'A couple of years ago, if Wayne wasn't the first-choice striker, he would have played him in left midfield or in behind the striker. For him not to start is a real kick in the teeth.

Real misery: Rooney could not prevent United crashing out of the Champions League to the Spanish giants

Real misery: Rooney could not prevent United crashing out of the Champions League to the Spanish giants

End of the road Rooney will be weighing up his future at Old Trafford after he was snubbed by Ferguson

End of the road Rooney will be weighing up his future at Old Trafford after he was snubbed by Ferguson

Dip in form: Rooney, cigarette in hand, relaxes on his honeymoon in Las Vegas

Dip in form: Rooney, cigarette in hand, relaxes on his honeymoon in
Las Vegas

'Wayne will either get his head down, try to improve and force his way back into the team, or he'll think, “The manager has not picked me for the biggest game, he obviously doesn't fancy me”, and it might not be the end of the story.'

Meanwhile, UEFA have charged United for failing to fulfil their media obligations after Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat that put them out of the Champions League.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney

Bidding war: Both Manchester City and PSG would be interested should United choose to sell Rooney

Not only did Ferguson not attend the press conference after the game, United also failed to provide two players for post-match interviews, as mandated under UEFA rules.

Nani, who was sent off by referee Cuneyt Cakir with United leading 1-0, will definitely be banned for one European game at least.

His case, and United's, will be heard by UEFA on March 21. It will not be known if players like United defender Rio Ferdinand will face sanction for their actions after the game until Cakir files his report, probably later today.

Manchester United stuck with dodgy pitch meaning Real Madrid will have to play on mudbath

Real Madrid will have to play on Old Trafford mudbath as Fergie admits title-chasing United left stuck with dodgy pitch

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

23:34 GMT, 30 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:51 GMT, 31 January 2013

Manchester United are stuck with their deteriorating Old Trafford pitch until the end of the season after the club decided not to rip it up before the summer.

United’s playing surface has been in a mess since the wet Manchester weather before Christmas and now represents something of a rutted sandpit after being dried out by a period of frost and cold weather.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was damning in his criticism of the pitch after his team struggled to beat Southampton 2-1 in the Barclays Premier League on Wednesday night but it is understood that the club’s ground staff have advised there is no way it can be replaced mid-season.

They've got their work cut out: Manchester United's pitch has been left a mess by the winter weather

They've got their work cut out: Manchester United's pitch has been left a mess by the winter weather

Ferguson said after the match: 'We found the pitch difficult to play on. Southampton won a lot of 50-50 balls as our players looked to take a touch.

'We watered the pitch before the game but once it dried out in the second half it became difficult.

'We couldn’t play our normal game on it and its really becoming a problem for us.'

Life's a pitch: United struggled on the surface during the win against Southampton, said Sir Alex Ferguson

Life's a pitch: United struggled on the surface during the win against Southampton, said Sir Alex Ferguson

Turf wars: The pitch can clearly be seen churning up during Wednesday's match at Old Trafford

Turf wars: The pitch can clearly be seen churning up during Wednesday's match at Old Trafford

With United looking to cement their position at the top of the Premier League in coming weeks and due to face Real Madrid at Old Trafford in the Champions League on March 5, Ferguson would certainly like his team to have a better surface to play on and it is not unknown for clubs to relay surfaces during a season.

It seems, however, that United will have to make the best of things until the summer.

Do I really have to play on that pitch Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid come to Old Trafford on March 5

Do I really have to play on that pitch Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid come to Old Trafford on March 5

Neil Warnock says Charlie Morgan must have been watching Didier Drogba

Warnock joins those putting the boot into ball boy Morgan, and says he must have been watching Drogba

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

13:50 GMT, 27 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 27 January 2013

Leeds manager Neil Warnock has accused controversial Swansea ball boy Charlie Morgan of reacting like Didier Drogba at the Liberty Stadium last week.

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is facing an FA charge after kicking the ball from beneath the 17-year-old towards the end of the teams’ Capital One Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.

The incident has divided opinion in football and Warnock didn’t pull any punches in his programme column for today’s FA Cup tie against Tottenham at Elland Road.

Warnock was scathing over Charlie Morgan's reaction

The oldest ball boy in history: Warnock was scathing over Charlie Morgan's reaction

The Leeds manager said Morgan must have been mimicking Drogba

Drogba's influence: The Leeds manager said Morgan must have been mimicking Drogba

Warnock wrote: ‘It was interesting to see Hazard’s sending off.

‘He obviously kicked the ball and caught the oldest ball boy in history.

‘I think the lad must have been studying Drogba over the years when you saw his reaction.

‘All that said, I’m sure Hazard will take his punishment because he was out of order.’

Meanwhile, new Leeds owners GFH Capital have reassured Warnock that he will be given cash to spend this week if striker Luciano Becchio leaves before the end of the transfer window.

A statement in today’s programme said: 'He will only be allowed to leave this week if we have an offer that is considered acceptable and in the best interests of the club.

‘If that happens proceeds will be re-invested in the team.’

Becchio submitted a transfer request last week after Leeds rejected offers from two foreign clubs.

Manchester United scouts watch Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay

EXCLUSIVE: The new Vidic Man Utd watch 15m-rated Benfica defender Garay again

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

13:14 GMT, 16 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:11 GMT, 16 January 2013

Manchester United have again sent scouts to Portugal to check on Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has identified the Argentina centre half as a possible new signing as he looks for long-term replacements for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

On the radar: Manchester United scouts have been keeping tabs on Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay

On the radar: Manchester United scouts have been keeping tabs on Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay

Sportsmail recently revealed that United had scouted Garay at games against Sporting Lisbon and Olhanense this season and it is understood that a United representative was back again at the weekend as Benfica drew 2-2 with Porto at the weekend.

Benfica are currently three points clear at the top of the Portuguese Liga but are under financial pressure to sell the 26-year-old this summer as they can’ t afford to continue paying his wages. Rated at about 15m, the South American is also being tracked by Juventus and other European clubs.

Garay’s former club Real Madrid are entitled to half of whatever fee he is eventually sold for. He has eleven caps for his country.

Nemanja Vidic

Rio Ferdinand

Long-term vision: Manchester United are busy identifying prospective replacements for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand

Mario Balotelli will play in Manchester City v Watford FA Cup match

Balotelli set to play in FA Cup clash with Watford despite training-ground scuffle with Mancini… but City will still try to sell bad boy

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

11:42 GMT, 5 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:42 GMT, 5 January 2013

Mario Balotelli is in Manchester City's squad for today’s FA Cup tie against Watford despite his bust-up with boss Roberto Mancini.

The Italian striker spent Friday night with the players at the team hotel in Manchester and has been told he will definitely be involved at some stage this afternoon.

Balotelli has not played since being taken off just after half-time in the Barclays Premier League defeat against Manchester United a month ago after falling ill and this week hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after a training ground bust up with manager Mancini.

Are you sure you should have that Mario Balotelli returned to training on Friday after his bust-up

Are you sure you should have that Mario Balotelli returned to training on Friday after his bust-up

However, Mancini is satisfied that
Balotelli is ready to be involved and the feeling at last night’s team
meeting was that he would start this afternoon among the substitutes and
come on in the second half. Ideally, Mancini would like to start the
Italian but is not sure his fitness is up to it.

City will also include youngster
Karim Rekik in the squad but will field a strong starting XI that will
also include Carlos Tevez.

It comes as City try to sell
Balotelli as soon as possible after Mancini privately conceded he cannot
change the wayward Italy striker.

Despite further claims to the
contrary from the City manager, it is understood that Mancini has
finally decided it is time to move Balotelli out of the club.

City will not wish to say the 22-year-old is for sale, for fear of driving down his plummeting value even further.

But with Balotelli now providing virtually nothing on the field — he has scored just one goal this season in the Barclays Premier League — and proving to be a constant distraction behind the scenes, Mancini, having previously stood by the player against the advice of many of his staff, accepts he has done all he can.

Game over: Balotelli will now be sold by Manchester City despite Mancini insisting otherwise (below)

Game over: Balotelli will now be sold by Manchester City despite Mancini insisting otherwise (below)

Glum: Roberto Mancini faces the questions during his Friday press conference

Mancini spoke for the first time
about the embarrassing scenes that occurred at the end of a City
training session on Thursday as the manager and his striker were
photographed pushing and shoving each other in front of the astonished
first-team squad.

Mancini
said he would give Balotelli a ‘hundred chances to change’ and confirmed
that the former Inter Milan star would not be fined and would be in the
squad for the FA Cup tie with Watford at the Etihad Stadium this
afternoon.

But City are willing to talk to any club who may wish to make an offer. AC Milan are circling but City want a cash sale — not a loan.

This all points to Balotelli staying during the transfer window and being sold in the summer.

Pals again Balotelli (left) laughs with team-mate Scott Sinclair during training on Friday

Pals again Balotelli (left) laughs with team-mate Scott Sinclair during training on Friday

On Friday, further details emerged
of Balotelli’s assault on team-mate Scott Sinclair that prompted
Mancini’s bust-up with Balotelli. Sportsmail understands that Balotelli’s lunge on Sinclair was so wild that Mancini felt compelled to intervene.

‘This
was not just a mistimed tackle that you sometimes get towards the end
of training,’ a source revealed. ‘This was an horrendous, horrific
slash.’

Meanwhile a separate issue loomed over another City striker when it emerged that Sergio Aguero has split from his wife Giannina, daughter of Diego Maradona, after four years.

It is unclear whether she will live with their three-year-old son Benjamin in Madrid or Buenos Aires, but the news is bound to raise concerns over Aguero remaining settled in Manchester.

Mario Balotelli will be sold by Manchester City

EXCLUSIVE: Mario must go! City want quick cash deal for Balotelli after Mancini bust-up

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

22:37 GMT, 4 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 4 January 2013

Manchester City are ready to sell Mario Balotelli as soon as possible after Roberto Mancini privately conceded he cannot change the wayward Italy striker.

Despite further claims to the contrary from the City manager, it is understood that Mancini has finally decided it is time to move Balotelli out of the club.

City will not wish to say the 22-year-old is for sale, for fear of driving down his plummeting value even further.

Are you sure you should have that Mario Balotelli returned to training on Friday after his bust-up

Are you sure you should have that Mario Balotelli returned to training on Friday after his bust-up

But with Balotelli now providing virtually nothing on the field — he has scored just one goal this season in the Barclays Premier League — and proving to be a constant distraction behind the scenes, Mancini, having previously stood by the player against the advice of many of his staff, accepts he has done all he can.

Mancini spoke for the first time about the embarrassing scenes that occurred at the end of a City training session on Thursday as the manager and his striker were photographed pushing and shoving each other in front of the astonished first-team squad.

Mancini said he would give Balotelli a ‘hundred chances to change’ and confirmed that the former Inter Milan star would not be fined and would be in the squad for the FA Cup tie with Watford at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon.

Game over: Balotelli will now be sold by Manchester City despite Mancini insisting otherwise (below)

Game over: Balotelli will now be sold by Manchester City despite Mancini insisting otherwise (below)

Glum: Roberto Mancini faces the questions during his Friday press conference

But City are willing to talk to any club who may wish to make an offer. AC Milan are circling but City want a cash sale — not a loan.

This all points to Balotelli staying during the transfer window and being sold in the summer.

On Friday, further details emerged of Balotelli’s assault on team-mate Scott Sinclair that prompted Mancini’s bust-up with Balotelli. Sportsmail understands that Balotelli’s lunge on Sinclair was so wild that Mancini felt compelled to intervene.

‘This was not just a mistimed tackle that you sometimes get towards the end of training,’ a source revealed. ‘This was an horrendous, horrific slash.’

Pals again Balotelli (left) laughs with team-mate Scott Sinclair during training on Friday

Pals again Balotelli (left) laughs with team-mate Scott Sinclair during training on Friday

Meanwhile a separate issue loomed over another City striker when it emerged that Sergio Aguero has split from his wife Giannina, daughter of Diego Maradona, after four years.

It is unclear whether she will live with their three-year-old son Benjamin in Madrid or Buenos Aires, but the news is bound to raise concerns over Aguero remaining settled in Manchester.

Paul Cox hoping for FA Cup honeymoon against Liverpool after training-ground wedding

Now this really is the magic of the FA Cup! Mansfield boss to get married at TRAINING GROUND ahead of giantkilling bid against Liverpool

By
Ian Ladyman

PUBLISHED:

11:07 GMT, 3 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:14 GMT, 3 January 2013

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox will begin the biggest weekend of his life on Friday by marrying his girlfriend at the club’s training ground.

Cox’s team from the Blue Square Premier host giants Liverpool at the One Call Stadium on Sunday in one of the ties of the FA Cup third round.

But Cox will begin the weekend by marrying his girlfriend Natasha Bertin on the training ground next to the stadium after honouring a promise he made to her ahead of the club’s replay with Lincoln in the previous round.

Happy couple: Paul Cox with his bride-to-be Natasha Bertin

Happy couple: Paul Cox with his bride-to-be Natasha Bertin

Countdown: Paul Cox poses at Mansfield's training ground - in front of the marquee in which he will marry

Countdown: Paul Cox poses at Mansfield's training ground – in front of the marquee in which he will marry

Countdown: Paul Cox poses at Mansfield's training ground - in front of the marquee in which he will marry

Having drawn 3-3 at Sincil Bank in the first game, Cox told his partner he would marry her if Mansfield went through and, after a 2-1 win clinched a meeting with Brendan Rodgers’ team, he will keep his word tomorrow when the couple tie the knot in a specially erected marquee.

A Mansfield source said: 'It’s going to be a big three days for Paul.

'He gets married on Friday and then it’s Liverpool on the day of his 41st birthday on Sunday.'

Busy week: Cox is facing a 48 hours at Mansfield

Busy week: Cox is facing a 48 hours at Mansfield

Hope the weather improves... the view at Mansfield's training ground

Hope the weather improves… the view at Mansfield's training ground

Mansfield are currently ninth in the Blue Square after losing out in the promotion play-offs last season.

The club applied for permission to use their full capacity to 10,000 for Sunday’s game but their request was rejected on safety grounds. There will be only 7,500 fans in the stadium, meaning that club will lose in the region of 50,000 in possible takings.

Champions League draw: Is Real v Man Utd the biggest match in club football? And will it be a British wipeout?

Champions League draw reaction: Is Real v Man Utd the biggest match in club football And will it be a British wipeout

PUBLISHED:

12:29 GMT, 20 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:12 GMT, 20 December 2012

Today's Champions League draw was one of the most exciting in recent memory, pitting Sir Alex Ferguson against Jose Mourinho and handing Cristiano Ronaldo his first return to Old Trafford since his world record transfer to Spain. Celtic have a glamour tie against Italian kings Juventus, while Arsenal face German behemoths Bayern. All classic ties, but is Real v United the biggest club match in the world And will any of the British teams survive We asked our experts…

THE BIG QUESTIONS

1. Is Real v Man Utd the biggest match in club football

2. Will any British side survive

THE DRAW

Galatasaray v Schalke

Celtic v Juventus

Arsenal v Bayern Munich

Shakhter Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund

AC Milan v Barcelona

Real Madrid v Manchester United

Valencia v PSG

Porto v Malaga

**First leg ties played on February 12/13 or 20/21, second legs on March 5/6 or 12/13.

For full details on all the teams in the draw, click here

IAN LADYMAN

1. It’s not the biggest but then what is It’s too hard to
define. It’s certainly one of the biggest in European competition, though. Both
teams are hugely popular and successful commercially while they both have a
strong history in this competition.

2. Common sense says that all three British teams will go out
but I have a feeling that one of them will sneak through and I think it will be
United, courtesy of playing at home second. Celtic will make a decent fist of
their tie with Juventus while Arsenal will lose to Bayern home and away simply
because they aren’t very good.

SAM CUNNINGHAM

1. Yes – in the past five years both clubs have sold an average of 1.4 million replica shirts globally each. More than any other club, even Barcelona, who although are a better side do not have the same global reach. More eyes around the world will be on that game than any other fixture that could have been drawn from the hat or anywhere on the planet.

2. United will win. They are flying this campaign while Real's season is falling apart already. I think Celtic have a chance… The way Kris Common's late penalty crashed off the crossbar and in to send Celtic through suggests fate is on their side. But Bayern will beat Arsenal: The German club are top of the Bundesliga and historically do well in the competition. Arsenal couldn't even beat Bradford last week.

LEE CLAYTON

1. If I could have one ticket to any game, it would probably be Barcelona versus Real Madrid, so that must make it the biggest club game. But if there's a spare for Manchester United vs Real Madrid, I could try and get a night off. It's a magical game and the tie electrifies the Champions League which was in danger of going a bit stale. And Jose vs Fergie on the touchline could be like the Rumble of the Jungle revisisted. Come on Fergie, show him you are still the old master…

Big cup, big clash: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and Real manager Jose Mourinho pose with the Champions League trophy

Big cup, big clash: United boss Sir Alex Ferguson (left) and Real manager Jose Mourinho pose with the Champions League trophy

2. Rooney vs Ronaldo… Wayne, time to stop
living on 'promise' and 'potential'. This is your World Cup Final. If
Rooney fires and if Nemanja Vidic is fit and defending for his life,
United can edge it. He will need to be at his very best. One goal in it.

I fear United could the last survivors of the British clubs. I can't see Arsenal beating German powerhouses Bayern with their limited firepower post-RVP and we saw how skilled Juve are against Chelsea. But then Celtic beat Barcelona with willpower and luck.

MATT BARLOW

1. Perhaps it is from an unashamedly English perspective. These are two of the world's wealthiest and most decorated clubs with genuine global reach. They are both rich with tradition, boast a vibrant fanbase, carry corporate clout and an air of football royalty. Yet, if its purely down to medals then the likes of AC Milan, Bayern and Liverpool might point to United's European Cup haul. Whilst the rise of Barcelona in the last decade married with that club's heritage suggests they should feature somewhere in the equation.

2. Oh dear. I fear Manchester United, the best of the Brits, will become victims of Mourinho's relentless obsession to bring this trophy to the Bernabeu. That Celtic cannot match the power of Juventus over two legs and that Arsenal, a team unable to beat Bradford this month, will struggle against Bayern.

Returning hero: Arsenal's Lukas Podolski will return to Bayern where he had an unhappy and unsuccessful spell

Returning hero: Arsenal's Lukas Podolski will return to Bayern where he had an unhappy and unsuccessful spell

ALEX KAY

1. No, Real Madrid v Barcelona is. Playing United is not that big a deal for Real, even though Mr Mourinho might have other ideas. I was in Africa recently and every kid has Real or Barca shirts. They are the two big guns these days, even if we don’t like to believe it in our Premier League dominated world.

2. Bayern will demolish Arsenal – they are pure class. Celtic are not better than Chelsea and Juventus eased past the Londoners. So expect more of the same there. I can’t call Real v United. I have a hunch United could do it though.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United is congratulated by team mate Wayne Rooney

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) celebrates his goal against Porto with team mate Wayne Rooney

Friends ru-United: Former team-mates at Old Trafford Cristian Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney will face each other

CHRIS WHEELER

1. If there’s a bigger, more glamorous game out there, I’d like to see it. The history and tradition of the two clubs and their commitment to playing attacking football means this one should have everything. Entertainment and extravagance are in their DNA. United and Real didn’t disappoint in 2000 and 2003. Why should 2013 be any different

2. United to find a way past Real, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho – but only just. Difficult to see the Celtic fairytale going any further, especially with the second leg in Turin. Chelsea somehow beat Bayern in last season’s final but I can’t see Arsenal doing it over two games.

NEIL MOXLEY

1. Is it Real Madrid v Manchester United, or Manchester United v Barcelona Or even Barcelona v Real Madrid – given the social backdrop to 'El Classico.' You could argue a case for Celtic v Rangers, on that basis too. Obviously, it's up there. For me, it signifies Jose Mourinho v Sir Alex Ferguson – the pre-match verbals will be interesting, that's for sure.

2. You can get short odds from the bookmakers on all three British teams going out. Which sums up – sadly – what I think may happen.

Cock-a-Hoops: Celtic's Kris Commons celebrates his winning goal over Spartak Moscow with Charlie Mulgrew earlier this month

Cock-a-Hoops: Celtic's Kris Commons celebrates his winning goal over Spartak Moscow with Charlie Mulgrew earlier this month

LAURIE WHITWELL

1. It is certainly the most romantic. The first winners of the
European Cup versus the club who have such an indelible narrative with the
competition. United almost denied Real their second title in 1957 at the last
four stage and but for Munich the 1958 final would have been between the two.
That Sir Matt Busby recovered to mastermind victory over Madrid in the
semi-finals 10 years later and lead United to a maiden title is one of sport's
great stories. I have been fortunate to attend each of Real's last two visits
to Old Trafford and witnessed 12 goals. This tie should prove equally stylish
and is another reason it is mouth-watering. The modern day global fame of each
team must also make this the biggest match in the world.

2. United to squeak past Real on away goals, Celtic to fall to a last-minute
Juve goal and Bayern to out-class Arsenal.

COLIN YOUNG

1. With their histories and financial pulling power, there can’t be many bigger. But it’s the return of Fergie v Jose which will be the most fascinating part of the build-up and the games.

2. I can’t see Manchester United and Arsenal beating Real Madrid and Bayern Munich over two legs, yet I can see Celtic progressing over two legs against Juventus. With the first leg in Glasgow, if Neil Lennon’s side can get a victory to take to Turin, they just might do it to be the only British team left in the last eight, which would be some achievement.

LIV LEE

1. All the key factors are coming together to make Real v United the biggest club game in football this year. Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford to face his former team-mates (and fans), while Alex Ferguson will be pitted against Jose Mourinho. With nine years having passed since the teams last faced each other in this competition, and more than 30 having passed since United last beat them in the European Cup, the tension is likely to reach momentous heights in the run-up to this dream tie.

2. Momentum after the Barca win might give Celtic a boost to overcome Juventus in the first tie, but I predict a Juventus win over two. Unless something changes dramatically in the Arsenal camp over Christmas, it looks like two consecutive victories for Bayern Munich. The second leg home advantage may just see United take the win on aggregate over Real.

VIDEO Reaction from the draw…

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