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The First Time United Played Real Madrid…

Manchester United were first drawn against European champions Real Madrid in the 1957 European cup semi final. In the previous round United had seen off Spanish champions and Real’s great domestic rivals Athletic Bilbao. It was an epic clash, one which United clinched with a stunning 3-0 win in Manchester, after going down 5-3 in Bilbao. Suddenly all Europe sat up and took note of Manchester United and their incredible ‘Busby babes.’ No more so than in Madrid and their President Don Santiago Bernabeu, who suddenly realised that his footballing conjurors, wizards and magicians, recruited from all parts of the word for a king’s ransom had some serious competition.
It was in the mid afternoon of Thursday 11th April 1957, that Real Madrid and Manchester United first stepped out into the Chamartin (soon to be renamed Bernabeu) stadium to do battle. The arrival of the two teams was greeted by a huge magical shower of white roses thrown from the highest bastions of this magnificent arena. Flashbulbs glittered across the terrace like a million fireflies as the stadium exploded in a glorious deafening symphony of rockets and cheering. A huge posse of Photographers scuttled like ants across the turf as both sides posed for their team photos. It was to be an afternoon they would talk about in Madrid for generations to come.
Led by their great Argentine playmaker Alfredo Di Stefano, the ‘Blond Arrow’ Madrid won a scintillating contests 3-1. For an hour it was all Real as Di Stefano led his Madrilenos in an all out assault against Busby’s young team. Under constant pressure it could not last and finally Francisco Gento, the man nicknamed ‘El Motorcycle’ by United defender Bill Foulkes careered down the wing and crossed for Argentine hitman Hector Rial to flash a header past keeper Ray Wood. Then, as Sir Matt Busby most memorably remarked. ‘The walls came tumbling down,’ as Di Stefano sensed blood and went for a swift kill.
Minutes later it was 2-0 as the ‘Blond Arrow’ broke clear to loft a superb shot over Woods and double Real’s lead. The Chamartin was on fire and it appeared a rout was on the cards. But United rallied and in the last thirty minutes played in a manner more associated with the devil on their on their shirt. Eight minutes from time Tommy Taylor converted from a Liam Whelan cross and it was game and tie on. 2-1. With the referee looking at his watch United continued to carry the fight forward in search of an equalizer. Only to be caught right at the last. The impetuous of youth saw them cruelly punished when the Madrid striker Mateos crashed a dramatic third for the home team with literally seconds remaining.
Come full time the Real payers celebrated in the centre-circle like they had already won the European cup itself. It had been that sort of an occasion. The post match banquets proved also to be a memorable affair with President Bernabeu impressing Busby with his sheer class and generosity, to the extent every United player was handed as a gift a solid gold watch. For working class lads from Manchester this was an act beyond words. Different world, different class. This was Real Madrid in 1957.
For more on the history between United and Real Madrid, read John Ludden’s excellent book: Tale of Two Cities: Manchester & Madrid 1957-1968
bwin are offering you a free £20 for United vs Real Madrid



  1. Gorse Hill Red says:

    Do you have a HD version of that video? Can’t make heads or tails of it! Interesting see so many of the spanish women wearing the traditional costumes.

  2. red1990 says:

    It will be a different story come tuesday night. Mark my words!

  3. dazbomber says:

    Resect to Real Madrid for the teatment they showed to United after the crash.I think we will win on Tuesday because i think they will underestimate us because of the two wins over Barca.

  4. The Left Bank says:

    Great story. It shows you can’t buy history, you make it as these two greta teams have done.

  5. wiuru says:

    Proud to be Red !!

  6. iced earth says:

    i hope rooney will play a central role against madrid
    he played that role against shitty and chelski and he was superbe
    he will help the middle.when we loose the ball he will be the extra man

  7. Red4ever says:

    Bring it on madrid we are gonna kick your ass all the way to spain we are not barca we are your dad ,,we are man utd we do what we want

  8. iced earth says:

    madrid will Sit back and play on the break. Or score from a set-piece.
    we must play like if we are away the same tactic against barca in 2008
    scoring an early goal will be a huge adventage
    there play are only based on the counter attack and set-pices

    rafa rio vida evra

    young jones carrick nani

  9. iced earth says:

    in copa Madrid had 38 per cent possession against barca
    goal from a penalty a counter that caused pique fault on ronaldo
    a counter from di maria for the 2end of cristiano
    and varane from a corner
    in saturday match ramos scored again from corner

  10. Proverb says:

    Great write up, great story all along, this why we love this blog a really great recap of our memorable encounters vs the virus

  11. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Great history between these clubs. Real probably something to answer to for being the Chavs of world football, but they deserve respect for how they helped United after Munich.

    Ala Madrid, but not tomorrow! HA We come to win the tie!

  12. denton davey says:

    The “analysis” of the match in Madrid is strange – both teams scored once; Madrid had two great chances from Coentrao saved by DDG but, on the other hand, RVP messed up two great chances and TheLegend faffed about and messed up another. So, on balance of “goals/chances”, UTD actually had the better of it.

    In terms of “fears” about tomorrow’s match, I am haunted by the foreboding that RVP’s scuffed bouncer – cleared by Xabi Alonso – will prove to be decisive in the away-goals maths.

  13. Denton Davey says:

    United’s wonderful record in home games in the knock-out stages of the Champions League since 2007:

    v Lille – W 1-0
    v Roma – W 7-1
    v Milan – W 3-2
    v Lyon – W 1-0
    v Roma – W 1-0
    v Barca – W 1-0
    v Inter – W 2-0
    v Porto – D 2-2
    v Arsenal – W 1-0
    v Milan – W 4-0
    v Bayern – W 3-2
    v Marseille – W 2-1
    v Chelsea – W 2-1
    v Schalke – W 4-1

  14. belfast red. says:

    Another fine article. They nerves have well and truely kicked in for tomorrow. Off topic. Theres a doc on channel 5 2nite at 10pm About the munich air crash.. could be intresting

  15. denton davey says:

    Hey Nick – thanks for copy-editing BUT I don’t see why it’s necessary. The person who supplied that information isn’t working in a “publish or perish” regime. I’m certainly not expecting to get “brownie points” for providing that information to RoM readers.


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