The Champions League draw has thrown up some fantastic ties with seven-times winners AC Milan taking on Barcelona, Celtic playing Juventus and Arsenal facing Bayen Munich while Shakhtar Donetsk-Borussia Dortmund has the potential to be a fascination encounter. But the perennial glamour tie is Real Madrid versus Manchester United, two matches between probably the world's two biggest clubs, with a history dating back over 55 years and eight games.
In 1957 the raw Busby Babes were beaten 5-3 on aggregate by the all-conquering Madrid, replete with a backheel from Alfredo di Stéfano, but in 1968 United vanquished Los Blancos at the semi-final stage.
After George Best rifled in the only goal at Old Trafford, Madrid raced into a 3-1 half-time lead in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabéu. But goals from David Sadler and a collector's item from Munich air disaster Bill Foulkes completed a magnificent comeback as the club went on to win their first European Cup and fulfilled Matt Busby's dream.
Memories of that tie were stirred in 2000 when United took on Madrid as European champions in the quarter-finals. After a tentative and goalless first leg in the Bernabéu, Madrid capitalised on their hosts' uncertainty at Old Trafford. Roy Keane slid in an own goal before Raül struck a brilliant brace, the second, via that flick from Fernando Redondo, is one of the most endearing away goals at the Theatre of Dreams. United replied through David Beckham and Paul Scholes but were eliminated 3-2.
Three years later and United were comprehensively beaten by an imperious Madrid whose first half display flirted with perfection. Again they went 3-0 down but this time it was in the first leg at the Bernabéu. Luis Figo lobbed Fabien Barthez and Raúl claimed another double, only for Ruud van Nistelrooy to offer hope as the score ended 3-1. ITV's Ron Atkinson compared Madrid, with some justification, to basketball's Harlem Globetrotters.
In the second leg David Beckham was infamously dropped to the bench before he emerged to score twice, yet the night belonged to the first Ronaldo. The Brazilian's hat-trick, although owed greatly to the incompetence of Barthez, compelled the home supporters to give him a standing ovation when he was substituted. United won 4-3 on aggregate and had exposed Madrid as too unbalanced a side to retain the Champions Leagu,e but were just too naive with their defending.
And it was that Old Trafford exhibition which convinced Roman Abramovich to buy a football club.
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