As the clock ticks for Real Madrid to take on Manchester United once again in Europe’s premier competition, we roll back the years and see the historical ties that have involved two of the top clubs in Europe.
1956/57 European Cup semi-finals
The first time Real Madrid and Manchester United faced each other was at the time when Champions League was called European Cup. This was the second edition of the competition with Real winning the first one. The tournament featured 22 teams in the competition vying for glory on the grand stage.
We faced United in the semi-finals and triumphed 5-3 on aggregate. We won first leg 3-1 at the Chamartin Staadium before drawing 2-2 in England. Rial, Alfredo di Stefano and Mateos scored in the first leg. While, Raymond Kopa and Rial scored in the away leg. Intriguingly, in the first leg in Madrid, 134,000 people attended the fixture as per this press sheet. (Flickr)
In the final, Real faced Fiorentina and won 2-0 at the Chamartin in front of their own fans and General Franco in attendance.
1967/68 European Cup semi-finals
This was a much changed side for Manchester United than the last time around with Munich air disaster wiping out nearly a full team of Manchester United youngsters a decade ago.
This time around, however, United emerged winners by winning 4-3 on aggregate. The first leg was played in England with George Best grabbing the only goal of the game.
In the second leg, we were cruising and destined for the final as we led 3-1 at half time with all goals coming from Madrid players. Pirri, Gento and Amancio scored into the United net but Zozo scored an own goal to give United some hope. And this hope is what they needed. Sadler and Foulkes scored in the second half giving United a 3-3 draw and passage to the final at Wembley. United went on to make most of this golden opportunity by winning 4-1 in extra time against Benfica.
1999/2000 UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals
Moving into the new century, the competition had undergone plenty of changes and had a new name as well. Manchester United were the reigning champions after a glorious 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in the final seconds!
The first leg was in Madrid which was a boring and dull 0-0 draw.
The action and fireworks happened in the second leg at Old Trafford. Real were dominant for most of the match with Roy Keane, scoring an unfortunate own goal and giving us the lead. Raul doubled the advantage on a quick counter attack after a very young Iker Casillas kept us alive with key saves. New signing – Steve McManaman played a pass outside the foot to Raul and Raul moved inside his stronger left foot and curled a shot past the goalkeeper. Raul’s second and Real’s third came in two minutes later and was easily one of the most creative goal you could find. Fernando Redondo played an extremely elaborate but neat and effective backheel flick around Henning Berg and then ran past the Norwegian and played a ball inside the box for an onrushing but unmarked Raul who made no mistake. So much so, Sir Alex Ferguson commented, “What does this player have in his boots? A magnet?” on Redondo.
United tried to come back into the game first with David Beckham scoring a fantastic individual goal and then Scholes converting from the penalty spot. However, this proved too little, too late for United as Madrid moved on to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals we faced Bayern Munich and won 3-2 on aggregate and then going on to win 3-0 in Paris against Valencia to lift the title.
2002/03 UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals
In the summer of 2002, Real Madrid splashed out the cash for Ronaldo. Not Cristiano but the original Ronaldo, the Brazilian Ronaldo. And did that investment prove useful in the quarterfinals!
The first leg was played in Madrid with Real winning 3-1. Luis Figo and a Raul double put Real 3-0 ahead. Ruud Van Nistelrooy grabbed a vital away goal for United to take back home with slender hope of progressing.
The second leg was a good example of the joys and magic of Champions League nights with United winning 4-3 on the night but Madrid progressing 6-5 on aggregate. The highlight of the game would be the standing ovation for Ronaldo at the end of the game after a terrific hatrick. Ronaldo opened the scoring and then Van Nistelrooy cancelled the advantage near half time to make for an interesting second half as Madrid also had an away goal in the bag. Ronaldo scored within five minutes of the start before Ivan Helguera scored into his own net. Ronaldo scored once again, to complete his hat-trick, to put Real back in the lead. However, Beckham scored two goals, one a free kick and one a rather lucky goal from near the line to give United the win on the night but leaving Real through.
Real couldn’t progress beyond the semi-finals as they lost 4-3 to Juventus on aggregate.
In total, Real Madrid and Manchester United have faced each other eight times – four times in the quarter finals (two ties) and four times in the semi-finals (two-times). On three of these occasions, the winner has gone on the lift the trophy in the end. Real have won three, drawn three and lost two. Scored 17 goals and conceded 14 goals.
In terms of personnel, only three players still play for the two sides since the last encounter. Iker Casillas, for Real Madrid, but out injured and Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs for Manchester United.