The theatre of dreams is proud to present Manchester United Versus Real Madrid, act two: Return of Ronaldo. The stage is set, the actors have rehearsed, and all the tickets have been sold – but no one has written a script.
This is one of the most eagerly-awaited games in Champions League history, and the sub-plots are everywhere: the two biggest and richest clubs in the world, with two of the best managers ever, with the old general Sir Alex Ferguson taking on Jose Mourinho, the “Special One.”
Both managers have won the Champions League twice, and will therefore be looking for the hat-trick. Real Madrid is also going for their tenth win as European Champions.
Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the two best players in the world, is returning to Old Trafford for the first time since his £80 million move to Madrid almost four years ago.
Ferguson beware, as a previous Ronaldo destroyed United a decade ago to eliminate them from the quarter-finals, although that one was Brazilian, not Portuguese, or as Ferguson referred to him yesterday after being reminded: “Obviously, the older one – the fatter one – he was at his peak at that time as a center forward.”
Ferguson was joking, of course, and trying to breathe some levity into the proceedings, as this game is about as big as they come, and neither side will want to be remembered as losers.
If all that is not enough, then there is another member of the cast, Ryan Giggs, who will play his 1000th first-class game at home in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Real Madrid. That part of the script was written, as Ferguson left him out of the squad to play Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.
So, pull back the curtain, and let the show commence!