The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Madrid awaits clash of titans

London: Holders Real Madrid will face a rampant Manchester United in their showcase Champions League first-leg quarter final tie at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.

Ajax Amsterdam host AC Milan on the same night, followed by two Italy-Spanish clashes between Inter Milan and Valencia, and Juventus versus Barcelona in Turin.

But the most tantalising of the four will be in Madrid, when the most successful club in the history of European football plays host to the world’s richest.

The clash of footballing styles, along with the individual battles between the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Roy Keane, Roberto Carlos and David Beckham, and more intriguingly, Ronaldo and Rio Ferdinand, should make it a thriller.

Real, looking to win European soccer’s top prize for the tenth time, will clearly be fancied to win.

Real knocked United out of the quarter finals three years ago and have since added Zidane, Figo and Ronaldo to the line-up, each one of them a potential matchwinner. Real skipper Hierro said: “Taking into account the strength of both teams, this could be a European Cup final.

United will certainly be up for the battle after crushing old enemies Liverpool 4-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday to go level on points with Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Coach Alex Ferguson is particularly fired up, reportedly telling British papers on Sunday that the Uefa had rigged the draw to avoid any all-Spanish or all-Italian games, adding that the body did not want United in the final.

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