Last-16 delight for neutrals as Man United face Real Madrid

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The draw for the last-16 of the Champions League has served up some juicy encounters, with Manchester United’s clash with Real Madrid the pick of an exciting bunch.

The tie sees Cristiano Ronaldo return to Old Trafford for the first time since he was sold to Real in the summer of 2009 and his side can now be backed at 9/2 to win the trophy. Should they overcome a fellow frontrunner in the first knockout round they’re in with a great chance of ending their 11-year Champions League-glory drought.

This next tussle will be the third in which Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho have clashed in the last-16. The Special One came out on top in the first meeting when Porto dumped the Manchester giants out in 2003/04, but Sir Alex avenged that defeat when his side sent Inter packing in the 2007/08 competition.

United are now 12/1 to be crowned kings of Europe once more and their record against their biggest rivals in domestic football will surely fill them with confidence ahead of their clash with the Spanish champions. The Red Devils have beaten Arsenal on their own patch, as well as picking up priceless wins at Liverpool, Chelsea and, most importantly, Manchester City in the league (something that Real coincidentally failed to do in the group-stage).

In addition to this fine record in the big Premier League games, United were one of a quartet of teams who got out of the group-stage unscathed and, even though Real have advanced in three of four two-legged tied with United, they should still fancy their chances against the Galacticos.

The last time the two sides met the original Ronaldo put on a finishing master-class, banging in a hat-trick at Old Trafford that ensured Los Merengues prevailed 6-5 on aggregate in the 2002/02 quarter-final.

All neutrals will be hoping for an equally captivating couple of occasions when they lock horns again and, with the sheer amount of attacking talent both camps boast, it’s difficult to envisage bore draws over the two legs.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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