Dream tie

"This is surely what the European Cup was made for - the two biggest clubs on the planet meeting in one of the game's great cathedrals."

- Stewart Gardner, MUTV

11/02/2013 16:05, Report by Stewart Gardner, MUTV
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Blog: Battle royale

Like just about everyone in the football world, I can't wait for Wednesday night's game in Madrid.

This is surely what the European Cup was made for - the two biggest clubs on the planet meeting in one of the game's great cathedrals. I was lucky enough to go to the Bernabeu when United played there in 2000 and 2003. It's an incredible place - the steepness of the stands really takes the breath away.

The quarter-final tie in 2000 is special to me as that was my very first Champions League commentary - what a way to start! Back then, I was working for BBC Radio Manchester. I vividly remember my horror at being put into a commentary box behind glass up in the stratosphere above the corner flag. There was no TV monitor to help me so anything could have happened in that game and the radio audience would have been none the wiser!

I do remember thinking what a good result 0-0 was. United were reigning European champions at the time and I rather blithely thought they would win the return leg with a bit to spare - how wrong I was. Nil-nils aren't what they used to be - an away goal is now essential for success in knockout ties.

An away goal is exactly what United got when they returned to the Bernabeu three years later - but it didn't prove to be enough. Indeed, United were lucky to get away with a 3-1 defeat. To this day, I have never seen a United side get so comprehensively outplayed in a European tie. Madrid destroyed the Reds that day and played some amazing stuff - Figo, Raul and the peerless Zidane were mesmerising. The return game at Old Trafford was a modern-day classic with the "big-boned" Ronaldo scoring a brilliant hat-trick but United showed bags of pride and passion to win the game 4-3 but ultimately lose a barn burner of a tie.

And talking of Ronaldo, there really is only one Ronaldo - Cristiano. He's been at the Bernabeu for less than four years but is already sixth on Real's all-time goalscorers list. His ratio of more than a goal a game is astounding and he scores hat-tricks like at an incredible rate. A brilliant player for United, he's now a true force of nature. We were lucky to see him every week for six seasons and I'm looking

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