Peter Schmeichel has warned Manchester United they have to stop Xabi Alonso – as well as Cristiano Ronaldo – if they are to beat Real Madrid.
The European giants meet at Old Trafford in Tuesday night's Champions League last-16 second leg clash, with the tie finely poised at 1-1.
Former Red Devils star Ronaldo scored in the first leg at the Bernabeu and, while Schmeichel is aware of the Portuguese's game-changing abilities, the ex-United favourite believes Alonso, who has played against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side for Liverpool in the past, is the key danger man.
“The match will be a little bit easier if they can keep Ronaldo quiet,” he told Keys and Gray. “But that’s a tall order and if you have that as your game plan then a lot of the attention is taken away from the other qualities that Real Madrid have.
“One of the main things you need to do when you play Real Madrid is to keep Xabi Alonso quiet. If you can stop him playing the ball forward, as they did in the first leg, then they have to play through Sami Khedira and, if they do that, then a lot of creativity goes out of their game.”
United only need to keep a clean sheet to qualify for the quarter-finals, after Danny Welbeck’s away goal in the Bernabeu, but Schmeichel, who won the Champions League with the Reds Devils in 1999, claims his former side can’t afford to be too defensive at Old Trafford.
“Man United can’t sit back at home,” he added. “When you’re playing away from home you don’t want to give goals away and you don’t need a goal. You just want to keep it tight. But when the second leg is at home you’re vulnerable to away goals and so you need to score.”