Real Madrid’s back-to-back victories over Barcelona have given them fresh momentum ahead of the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie at Manchester United today.
Prior to the 1-1 draw between the teams three weeks ago, the season had appeared to be ebbing away from the Spanish champions, with Barca having assembled a seemingly unassailable 16-point lead in La Liga.
Madrid’s chances of catching their sworn enemies remain slim, but the two victories over Barca in the Copa del Rey and the league have injected belief that Jose Mourinho’s side can go to Old Trafford and win.
“It’s clear that these victories are great for the confidence of the group, because now we face a difficult match in the Champions League,” centerback Sergio Ramos said.
“After the two Clasicos we are going to Manchester convinced that we can win, although with a lot of respect for the opponents, who are a great team,” Ramos said.
Aside from goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has a broken hand, Mourinho has a full complement of players to choose from. United’s squad has also largely been spared injury, although there are doubts over the fitness of Phil Jones.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is looking forward to today’s encounter.
“It will be a fantastic night,” he said. “You are talking about two of the greatest clubs in the world. Emotions will be high and I am sure it will be a tremendous match.”
“If we can get a blank against us on Tuesday, we would go through, but I think both teams will score. I just hope we get more than them,” the Scot said.
United’s fans seem certain to witness Ryan Giggs’ 1,000th appearance in senior soccer after he was rested at the weekend.