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Wednesday, Sep 18th

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ucl_top_viewThe UEFA Champions League Round of 16 draw took place in Nyon today with former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Steve Mcmanaman the 2013 event ambassador assisting proceedings. The big news coming out of the draw amazingly involved those two teams with Liverpool's arch rivals in England, Manchester United drawn to face, Real Madrid. That match will see Sir Alex Ferguson square-off against Jose Mourinho in what was an incredible rivalry during the latters time with Chelsea. It will also witness a first return for Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford, the place which turned him into a global superstar.

Man United and Real Madrid have faced each other only 4 times in European competitions, with the last of those being in the semi-finals in 2003 where United lost 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu, and came close to springing a surprise in the second leg, which they won 4-3.

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Invariably Matchday 6 doesn't quite offer the kind of excitement that one would usually expect from the final round of Group stage matches in the world's leading club competition with most teams having already booked their places in the knock-out rounds of the UEFA Champions League. The case of Tuesday's fixtures was that all three qualifiers from Groups A and B were already decided, though top spot in both groups was up for grabs. The Champions League qualifiers from Groups C and D were also in, but Europa League spots were still on offer.

Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg finally fulfilled their promise by picking up a rare win at the San Siro to take third place in Group C at the expense of Anderlecht, while former Champions League winners, Ajax were hammered 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu by Real Madrid, but still it made it through to the Europa League as English champions Manchester City were soundly beaten 1-0 by Borussia Dortmund to end their European sojourn far sooner than they would have liked.

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cris_ronaldo_realThe biggest derby in world football on a day of derbies across Europe ended in a 2-2 draw as Barcelona and Real Madrid were forced to share the points at the Nou Camp. Amid the wide range of International superstars on the pitch two phenomenal talents dominated proceedings as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi shared the goals. Real Madrid deservedly took the lead 23 minutes in as Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in six consecutive Clasicos. His battle with Messi began in earnest around the half-hour mark as the Argentine equalized for the home side, taking advantage of a mistake from Pepe.

The little magician then put Barca in the lead on 61 minutes as he curled a sublime free-kick past a helpless Iker Casillas. But Ronaldo responded in style as he drew Madrid level five minutes later. The Catalan giants finished the game strongly as they created numerous opportunities at the death, even striking the woodwork, but a draw was a fair result in the end.

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The latest sound bite regarding the future of Jose Mourinho has arrived and unsurprisingly it is from the ‘Special One’ himself as the Real Madrid once again spoke of his desire to return to England in a long-ranging interview with CNN. The Portuguese revealed that he wasn’t solely focussed on replacing Sir Alex Ferguson while also disclosing that he still enjoyed a good relationship with Roman Abramovich.

Despite taking over at Madrid only in 2010 and having a contract at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2016, Mourinho has continually been linked with a move away from the Spanish Champions. Like his tempered stay in Italy, Mourinho has enjoyed a fractious relationship with the press and the fans in Spain. But the ‘Special One’ is unlikely to leave the Spanish capital until he clinches Europe’s biggest crown, a trophy that has always dictated the tenure of any Madrid manager.

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