Real Madrid & Manchester United could go either way, says Pavon

The former Blancos defender says he is struggling to predict a winner for Tuesday night’s clash and sees both sides as extremely well-matched ahead of the last 16 second leg

By Alberto Pinero

Paco Pavon anticipates a tight game at Old Trafford when Real Madrid face Manchester United in the Champions League last-16 second leg and cannot separate the two sides.

The 33-year-old Spaniard, who played 146 times for los Merengues, spoke exclusively to and revealed that, though he believes his former side are the superior team, the Old Trafford atmosphere will be a leveller on the night.

“The United-Real Madrid clash is very much 50/50,” the defender, currently without a club, commented.

“Manchester United scored here and then just defended. I hope there will be more gaps at Old Trafford and Real Madrid can take advantage of them. We have the better team but being at Old Trafford equals up the sides.”

Pavon is no stranger to playing in big European games and reminisced about his own experience of playing against Manchester United in a thrilling 2003 quarter-final tie that saw the Red Devils go out of the competition, despite a 4-3 home win. 

“I have great memories of Old Trafford,” Pavon enthused.

“Ronaldo was excellent that day [the Brazilian scored a memorable hat-trick to help seal a 6-5 aggregate win and earn an ovation from the home crowd]. We took advantage but Beckham’s two goals scared us a bit.

“But I will never forget Ronaldo’s performance and his magic.

“The Old Trafford fans are so impressive. They always support the team, they represent English football. Spain is different – no better, no worse. I played at Anfield too but I always preferred Old Trafford.”

Pavon also cast his eye over the current crop of Madrid players, praising Raphael Varane but also not resisting the opportunity to speak about the Ronaldo currently playing at the club.

“You can’t compare Ronaldo Nazario with Cristiano Ronaldo,” he stressed.

“They are different. Ronaldo was a striker, a real killer. Cristiano is a broader type of forward and plays everywhere. He’s more complete, but Ronnie was so special. Nowadays there are fewer No. 9s, but he was the best.

“Varane can reach everything. He’s so well advised and trained. He never has a bad word to say and he always plays well. A good header of the ball, quick and skilful. I really like him.”

Los Blancos go into Tuesday’s game with the Premier League-leaders with the score level at 1-1 after the first leg in Madrid.

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