FOOTBALL NEWS

13/02/2013 09:00, Report by Steve Bartram

Real is the perfect test

Champions League ties don’t come bigger than United against Real Madrid and, according to Peter Schmeichel, they don’t come any better for the Reds.

While Jose Mourinho’s star-studded La Liga champions cast an imposing spectre, former Reds stopper Schmeichel expects United to be galvanised by the challenge, rather than daunted by it.

“It’s probably the best draw we could have got,” the Dane told ManUtd.com. “I’d far rather we be drawn against Real Madrid than Shakhtar Donetsk; at least this way nobody is in any doubt of exactly how good our opponents are.

“It’s as tough a game as you can get, and I’ve always felt that we’re much better against stronger teams. Certainly our results so far this season have shown that, and they should provide plenty of cause for confidence.”

United travel to Madrid on Tuesday assured of returning to a 12 point lead at the head of the Barclays Premier League table and an FA Cup fifth round tie with Reading.

Schmeichel feels that, having plugged a defence which had been porous throughout the opening months of the campaign, the invariably attack-minded Reds are perfectly primed for one of the season’s toughest opponents to date.

“While we’ve definitely improved our defending recently, we’re playing to score goals, and we know that whoever we play against we’re going to make chances and score,” he said.

“I’m very optimistic. We go into this game knowing how hard it will be against Real Madrid, but also knowing that we can beat them – and if we manage that then it doesn’t matter who we get in the quarter finals, because there’s no cause to fear anybody after that.”

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