The Bernabeu hosts visitors from Old Trafford in this prestigious Champions League encounter.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson appeared relaxed and confident and promised goals on the eve of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid here on Wednesday.
United head into the game against the Spanish champions flying high at the top of the Premier League and with a healthy squad, and the veteran Scot believes his team have a great chance of progressing.
“The game has come at a good time for us, we’re doing well in the Premier League and we come to Madrid in good form,” he told a packed press room at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I’ve got everybody fit that I need to be fit and we’re all looking forward to it.
“It’s a fantastic challenge to come here and play Real Madrid and it should be a great game with two teams who embrace the best parts of football.
“I’m sure there will be goals, it won’t be 0-0,” added Ferguson, who will renew his friendship and rivalry with opposite number Jose Mourinho.
Earlier Mourinho had admitted that he is likely to return to the Premier League when his time in the Spanish capital does come to an end, with many tipping the Portuguese to be Ferguson’s eventual successor at Old Trafford.
The current incumbent of the United bench was full of praise for Mourinho and his past record as a manager in England’s top flight, which saw him win two league titles with Chelsea.
“He transformed Chelsea, they caught us on the hop and we were chasing them for a couple of years. He has won the Champions League with two different teams and has won a lot of trophies now for a young man,” he added.
Mourinho had declared it unlikely that he will ever take over from Ferguson at United, joking that the Scot could continue as manager at the club until he is 90.
“It’s against the law to force retirement but I won’t be working until I’m 90,” joked Ferguson in response.
“But while I’m enjoying it and my health is good I’ll carry on.”
In goal for United on Wednesday night will be David de Gea, the former Atletico Madrid ‘keeper who is back in his home town.
He admitted that the absence of Spain’s World Cup-winning captain Iker Casillas from the home goal because of a fractured hand could be an advantage to the visitors.
“I think it can be an advantage for us, they have two other good goalkeepers but Iker is the Spanish national side’s ‘keeper and will be a big loss for them,” he replied, with Diego Lopez likely to start for Madrid in Casillas’ absence.
“It could be important for us to play at home in the second leg but to enjoy that advantage we have to get a good result here tomorrow,” he added.
A typically self-assured Jose Mourinho is confident that he will lead a third club to glory in the Champions League, but the Real Madrid coach is wary of the threat presented by Manchester United.
The Spanish champions know that progress in Europe will define their season, as they prepare to come up against United in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Mourinho believes he will add to his triumphs with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010, although he is not promising to do it this year.
“Real Madrid want to win a tenth European Cup and I want to win my third,” said the Portuguese coach.
“I don’t know if it will happen this year but I will keep fighting until I do it. I have confidence in my work.
“It wouldn’t be a failure if we didn’t win it this year. There are great clubs and great players out there that have never won it.”
While Madrid are struggling domestically and currently sit 16 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, United are flying high in the Premier League, where they are 12 points clear of Manchester City at the top.
It promises to be a tough tie for the hosts, but one that brings back happy memories for Mourinho, who led Porto to victory against United en route to lifting the trophy in 2004.
“Its always a privilege to play Manchester United,” he said.
“I remember every detail of my first game against them nine years ago, and I hope the expectation for this game has a relation with the quality of the match,” he said.
Asked to give details of his starting line-up on Wednesday and how his team will play Mourinho was very guarded.
Mourinho, who saw his team thump Sevilla 4-1 in La Liga on Saturday night with an outstanding Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick, was not giving anything away when asked what his line-up for the game might be.
“They (United) want to know how we will play the same as you,” he added.
“I’m not going to give away how we will play, our opponents are strong and very experienced in these situations and I don’t want to help them.”
The former Chelsea manager gave no indication as to whether injury doubt Xabi Alonso will play, but he did admit that Pepe is in line to feature.
“I won’t name my team. Pepe is in the squad and available, he has worked hard to get back from injury and he may play,” he said, before moving to play down suggestions that he will replace Alex Ferguson as United manager when the Scot finally leaves the Old Trafford hotseat.
“Normally, to coach again in England would be my next step, but I don’t think I can substitute Sir Alex at Manchester because we will finish our career at the same time, him at 90 and me at 70,” he added to much laughter.
Veteran midfielder Paul Scholes will miss the first leg of Manchester United’s Champions League meeting with Real Madrid with a knee injury.
The 38-year-old has not played since January’s 4-1 win over Fulham in the third round of the FA Cup.
Ashley Young has overcome his own knee problem, while Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick are set to be recalled.
Real Madrid midfielders Xabi Alonso, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira should return after being rested.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas is out with a broken hand so January signing Diego Lopez is expected to continue in his absence.
David de Gea, who played for Real Madrid’s city rival Atletico before moving to Old Trafford in June 2011, is likely to start in goal for Manchester United.
However, Anders Lindegaard, who has started eight of United’s league games ahead of De Gea, has made the trip after missing Sunday’s 2-0 win over Everton and the win over Fulham.
Jonny Evans and Phil Jones are also fit despite knocks that forced them off in the weekend’s victory – a match that Carrick began on the bench and Ferdinand sat out entirely.
Real Madrid: Diego Lopez, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Angel di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema
Man United: David de Gea, Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Nemanja Vidic, Rafael, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Shinji Kagawa, Luis Antonio Valencia, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie
Man United 4/1 to win at the Bernabeu: Real Madrid vs Man United Betting