Oddly, a Liverpool team featuring Fabio Borini, Javier Manquillo and Lazar Markovic did not emerge victorious (or even unbeaten) from a trip to Madrid three years ago. They were the last team to try and join these intrepid explorers…
Real Madrid 0 Ipswich 0 (UEFA Cup, 1973)
That this was the first round of the UEFA Cup tells you that the Real Madrid of 1973 was not the Real Madrid of 2017 or just about any other year in their history. But this was still Bobby Robson’s provincial Tractor Boys against the six-time European Cup champions and they emerged with a 1-0 win from the first leg at Portman Road, prompting captain Mick Mills to state that “Real are not invincible”. They weren’t; a stout defensive performance in the Bernabeu earned them a 0-0 draw and a very unlikely victory. They eventually lost to Lokomotive Leipzig on penalties.
Real Madrid 0 Manchester United 0 (Champions League, 2000)
“I think there’s a sense of relief with the result of a draw, because I think it was one of our poorest performances in the big games over the last few years,” said Sir Alex Ferguson, who knew that Mark Bosnich had kept Manchester United in this quarter-final. Steve McManaman was particularly wonderful against United, for whom Ryan Giggs almost scored a re-run of his famous Arsenal FA Cup goal, only to be stopped rather agriculturally on the edge of the box by Aitor Karanka. This looked like a wonderful result until Real and Raul were magnificent in a 3-2 victory at Old Trafford in the return leg.
Real Madrid 0 Arsenal 1 (Champions League, 2006)
Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini, Ljungberg, Hleb (Pires 76), Silva, Fabregas (Song 90), Reyes (Diaby 80), Henry.
Goalscorer Thierry Henry aside, it does not look like a team of heroes. And is anybody else astonished that Abou Diaby ever played in the same team as Henry and Freddie Ljungberg? Anyway, this Arsenal side were well worth the win, dominating for long periods of the game against a Real side featuring David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Robinho and Thomas Gravesen. Arsenal even stood firm to draw the second leg 0-0 and advance through to the Champions League semi-finals. Those were the days, my friends…
Real Madrid 0 Liverpool 1 (Champions League, 2009)
The kind of textbook away performance in the Champions League that leaves Jamie Carragher admitting that he has played in Liverpool sides that have a mindset as defensive as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. Rafa Benitez set up Liverpool to contain Real Madrid and they did it brilliantly, with long balls out of defence towards Fernando Torres their only real outlet. The perfect performance was then capped by the bonus away goal, scored with the head of Yossi Benayoun from a Fabio Aurelio free-kick. They would then thrash them 4-0 at Anfield with a very different kind of thrilling performance, showing just what great managers can achieve in knock-out competitions.
Real Madrid 1 Manchester United 1 (Champions League, 2013)
‘It was an epic night,’ begins the Guardian match report written by Daniel Taylor, who felt privileged to witness a wonderful football match between two teams who went hell for leather in search of victory, despite this being the first leg of a knock-out tie. That Sir Alex Ferguson was aggrieved not to emerge with a win from the Bernabeu showed the level of his ambition in his final season as Manchester United manager. David De Gea had to be magnificent at one end, but Robin van Persie was wasteful at the other. The goals were scored by those twin titans of the modern game, Danny Welbeck and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Now we need a whole new feature to discuss what happened in the return leg. Your reminder: Nani and a high(ish) foot.