LONDON (AP) — David Beckham is back in Champions League action this week, yet it's the glamor game between two of his former clubs that has the world gripped with anticipation.
Manchester United's last-16 match with Real Madrid is delicately poised at 1-1 after a riveting first leg, and both teams are heading into Tuesday's return match at Old Trafford energized by morale-boosting wins in their domestic leagues at the weekend.
Madrid, especially, looks in prime form after back-to-back victories in 'clasicos' against fierce rival Barcelona and, in Cristiano Ronaldo, has arguably the in-form player in world football at the moment going back to his former team.
"You are talking about two of the greatest clubs in the world," said United manager Alex Ferguson, whose team is the runaway leader of the English Premier League. "Emotions will be high and I am sure it will be a tremendous match.
"If we can get a blank against us on Tuesday, we would go through. But both teams will score — I just hope we get more than them." Beckham hasn't played in the Champions League since 2009/10 — for Milan against United — but he should be involved for Paris Saint-Germain when the French club hosts Valencia on Wednesday with a 2-1 lead from the first leg.
"I played in some big games in the U.S. but you always miss being involved in games like this in Europe," said Beckham, who has played a part in PSG's past three matches. "It is a while since I played in the Champions League, so I am excited."
Borussia Dortmund's match against Shakhtar Donetsk is also in the balance after a 2-2 draw from the first match in Ukraine, but this week's other last-16 game has virtually been wrapped up already with Juventus 3-0 ahead against Celtic with a home match to come.
United's success this season has sparked talk of a possible Champions League-Premier League-FA Cup treble, which the team achieved in 1999, but Madrid is a different side to the one that approached the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Successive wins over Barca for the first time since the 2007-08 season have quietened speculation brewing earlier in the season that Madrid might be ready to break with Mourinho. Yet all that could change if Madrid fails to advance in the Champions League, with the club focused this season on winning what would be its 10th European Cup title.
"We are on a very good run, and when we play like a team it is difficult to beat us," Madrid defender Pepe said. "The victory (on Saturday) was important — it gives us more hope for the game on Tuesday."
While Mourinho rested most of his big players at the weekend — including the 39-goal Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Mesut Oezil and Gonzalo Higuain — Ferguson played the majority of his in a 4-0 win over Norwich.
Ferguson, seeking a third Champions League title, is in bullish mood after his team gave Madrid problems in the first leg. "We could have scored five or six goals — Robin van Persie missed two great opportunities and their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves," Ferguson said. "To beat Real Madrid on our own ground would be a great step forward for this particular team. It would give us a chance of going all the way in this tournament."
United midfielder Ryan Giggs will play some part in Tuesday's game, making his 1,000th senior competitive appearance for club or country. Beckham — another veteran midfielder still going strong — is likely to start on the bench for PSG, which is without star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his sending-off in the first leg against Valencia.
"We can come back but we have to be more intelligent than in Mestalla," said Valencia's French defender, Jeremy Mathieu, whose team has lost only once in 10 matches in the Spanish league under new coach Ernesto Valverde.