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Real v United: A Tale of Two Seasons

Manchester United and Real Madrid, which meet on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg in Madrid, have had very different domestic seasons, United coach Alex Ferguson points out, a fact that could alleviate some of the pressure on the Red Devils going into the crucial series. Indeed, United is 12 points ahead of its closest challenger, Manchester City, in the Premier League, while Real Madrid is languishing in third place in La Liga, 16 points behind leader FC Barcelona.

"I think their target is the European Cup," Ferguson said. "They got a bad start in the league and were chasing their tail a bit because Barcelona's form has been incredible. I think [Real coach Jose Mourinho] has set his targets firmly on the European Cup, no doubt about that.

“It can be harder for us but there's a bit of pressure for them too. At this moment in time we're involved in three things. Jose has still got the semifinal of the Copa del Rey, they play Barca next week and then again in a league game before we play them on the Tuesday at Old Trafford. So they've got a big program themselves.”

He added: "Maybe in Jose's situation he can make changes simply because the priority is the European Cup, but Real never wants to lose to Barca so he has to play a strong team in that game. But I think both teams are in a program of playing game after game so it'll be interesting."

Read the whole story at ESPN Soccernet »

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