Preview: Manchester United vs. Real Madrid

Real Madrid manager José Mourinho and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson during their sides games on February 13, 2013
© AP Photos
Sports Mole looks ahead to Tuesday's evenly-poised Champions League last-16 clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Could the showdown between Manchester United and Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 be more finely poised?

After a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Madrid, both sides have won all their games since, but Real have had to play a game more than United.

Despite the increased workload, Madrid go into Tuesday's game at Old Trafford on the back of two successive wins over bitter rivals Barcelona, one in the Copa del Rey semi-final and one in La Liga.

Jose Mourinho's side are still a mighty 13 points adrift of Barca at the top of La Liga, while United's demolition of Norwich at the weekend means that they are now 15 points clear of Manchester City at the Premier League's summit.

Mourinho is likely to name a similar side to the one that faced United in the first leg but Pepe may earn a start in place of Alvaro Arbeloa, which would see Sergio Ramos shift across to right-back.

Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson will find it difficult to leave out Danny Welbeck after the forward's goal at the Bernabeu, and he could employ the same playmaking trio of Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Saturday's hat-trick man Shinji Kagawa behind striker Robin van Persie.

Phil Jones is up against the clock to be fit for Tuesday and if he doesn't make it, then Ryan Giggs could play his 1000th match alongside Michael Carrick in the middle of midfield.

The veteran Welshman was left out of the squad altogether on Saturday despite plenty of buildup for the landmark match and this suggested that he would feature against Real.

Recent form

United: WWDWWW

Madrid: WDWWWW

Possible starting lineups

United: De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Giggs; Welbeck, Kagawa, Rooney; Van Persie

Madrid: Lopez; Ramos, Pepe, Varane, Coentrao; Khedira, Alonso; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema

Sports Mole says: 1-2

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has his shoot tipped onto the bar on February 13, 2013
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