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Soccer's Biggest Showdown Arrives Early

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It is rare that soccer's biggest showdown in any given season should come in early February rather than the end of May, but Wednesday's match-up between Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid and Manchester United comfortably fits that lofty billing.

Never mind that the clash will take place in the round of 16 of the Champions League and not the final, nor that this week's installment is only the first segment of a home-and-home contest that will be decided over 180 minutes, across two countries and won't anoint a victor until the beginning of next month.

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