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Following their breathless encounter in the Spanish capital, there is still nothing to separate Manchester United FC and Real Madrid CF going into their UEFA Champions League last-16 second leg at Old Trafford. For midfielder Michael Carrick the tie, which he bills as "extra special", is likely to be decided by the finest of margins, though if United fall short it will not be for lack of ambition.
"At this stage of the competition, when two teams like this come together, sometimes it can be very tight, and games can be won and lost on little details," said the 31-year-old. "Of course we will play our game and try to score goals, but sometimes that's not possible, especially in games like this. I am sure Madrid are thinking the same thing."
It was almost inevitable that Cristiano Ronaldo – who spent six glittering years in Manchester before moving to Spain in 2009 – would make his mark in Madrid, majestically heading in to cancel out Danny Welbeck's opener. "Everyone respects what he did at the club and how good he was," said Carrick, who lifted European club football's most coveted prize with a little help from the Portuguese forward in 2008.
The Reds first tasted European glory in 1968, overcoming SL Benfica in extra time at the venue for this season's showpiece. Turn the clock forward to 2011 and Carrick was experiencing life from the other side as FC Barcelona swept United away in a 3-1 triumph at Wembley. Avenging that defeat is not about to cool Carrick's focus on Madrid, however.
"In terms of putting that right we can't, because the game is gone. We've got something else to achieve now and we'll try our utmost to do that," the England player said. "Obviously being at Wembley it's an added incentive, but we're not looking too far ahead. We are well aware of the tie that is immediately in front of us."
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