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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Might of the midfielders
Beckham, Veron, Figo and Zidane
BBC Sport Online's Nada Grkinic looks at who will come out on top in the battle of the midfield quartets - Manchester United or Real Madrid.

Manchester United and Real Madrid have reinforced, in the most spectacular fashion, the one area of their teams that could have been left untouched - their midfield.

Juan Sebastian Veron's imminent unveiling at Old Trafford and Real Madrid's stunning capture of Zinedine Zidane are proof, if any were needed, that both clubs want Champions League success badly this season.

Veron and Zidane will bring their own touch of class to midfields already bulging with talent. But which quartet will emerge triumphant?

  • Click here to have your say.

    David Beckham and Luis Figo

    David Beckham v Luis Figo

    Beckham and Figo both contribute massively to their teams' attacking menace.

    While Beckham is arguably the world's best crosser of the ball, Figo is simply one of the world's best midfielders.

    Both players provide the most passes and crosses for their team-mates to score, and both boast amazing precision at free-kicks.

    The two, despite their creative roles, work tirelessly for the cause and are on a par in that area.

    But Figo's higher goal ratio, greater pace and power give him the edge over Beckham on the right side of midfield.

    Verdict: Figo gets the nod

    Roy Keane and Claude Makelele

    Roy Keane v Claude Makelele

    Captain Keane is United's heart-beat and Makelele is Real's lungs.

    The Irishman possesses amazing stamina, which he combines with effective and accurate distribution of the ball.

    Makelele is equally athletic and quietly controls the midfield, allowing his team-mates to press forward.

    Keane and Makelele are both quick in the tackle and have a massive presence on the pitch.

    While Makelele is coming to the fore as one of Europe's top combative midfielders, Keane is already there and has been for some time.

    Verdict: Keane leads by example

    Steve McManaman and Ryan Giggs

    Ryan Giggs v Steve McManaman

    The Welsh wizard has not been given the same international stage as McManaman, but he has touched more people worldwide with his pace and dribbling skills.

    Giggs has often kept his best performances for the Champions League, although the same could be argued for McManaman whose goal against Valencia in the 2000 final lingers long in the memory.

    Both players can embarrass defences with their mazy runs, which too often lack the finishing touch they deserve.

    McManaman has matured into a fine player under Vicente del Bosque and his all-round play has improved.

    But Giggs, with his superb natural ability, poses a far greater attacking threat.

    Verdict: Giggs wings his way in

    Zinedine Zidane and Juan Sebastian Veron

    Juan Sebastian Veron v Zinedine Zidane

    Zidane is rightly lauded as the world's best player, while Veron is not too far behind.

    Veron has fantastic vision and his ability to pick out players from deep in his own half is second to - Zidane.

    The Frenchman's skill and balance are superb, while Veron combines the midfield roles of attack and defence excellently.

    Both are masters of the free-kick, and both struck fear into their opponents while playing in Italy's Serie A.

    But Zidane's special talent for changing the course of a game is far too important for him to ever be overlooked.

    Verdict: Zidane wins every time

    Scholes and Guti

    Paul Scholes v Guti

    Scholes and Guti share a similar ability to link up well with the front two.

    They both time their runs from midfield into the box to perfection and score as a result.

    Guti is one of Spain's most talented footballers, possessing excellent vision, while Scholes is one of only a handful of truly impressive English-born players.

    Scholes' tackling often lets him down, while Guti's more attacking role leaves gaps in midfield.

    A tight call to make, but Scholes' experience wins the day.

    Verdict: Scholes, right place right time

    Few would question that Real Madrid, on paper, have the better midfield by virtue of having two of the world's best players.

    But football is played on grass and Sir Alex Ferguson's midfield has proven that, as a unit, it is second to none.

    Real have the edge in terms of flair but United's steely determination to succeed sees them pip their Spanish rivals in the effort stakes.

    Final verdict: United face Real challenge

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    See also:

    10 Jul 01 |  Man Utd
    Ferguson: 'We can't match Real'
    06 Jul 01 |  Man Utd
    Why Man Utd need Veron
    09 Jul 01 |  Europe
    Zidane makes record Real switch
    09 Jul 01 |  Europe
    Zidane - symbol of Real's dream
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