Why Robin van Persie has more to prove than anyone against Real Madrid

Manchester United face Real Madrid in midweek, and Robin van Persie has it all to do.

It is perhaps taken for granted that Robin van Persie is one of modern football's great forwards, which is why there has been such an outcry among English supporters over the past couple of seasons when he has been snubbed when it comes to Europe's top accolades.

Rio Ferdinand was one who criticised Van Persie's omission from the FIFPro Team of the Year, one dominated by La Liga based players.

But the fact remains when it comes to the Dutchman we possess a rather insular view.

He scored near to 40 goals last season, but he wasn't the only one in Europe's top leagues to do so, Bundesliga strikers Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Mario Gomez both surpassed him.

Van Persie has clinched his big move to Manchester United, but what he really needs is to seize his stage in the limelight.

He has had opportunities in the past two-and-a-half seasons but largely failed to take them. Here are some examples.

- At the Nou Camp for Arsenal in 2011 Van Persie failed to register a shot on goal and was sent off for two bookings.

- At the San Siro for Milan he was anonymous as the Gunners were thrashed 4-0.

- In the home leg when Arsenal won 3-0, Van Persie missed a sitter from close range which could have brought the tie level.

- At Euro 2012 Van Persie failed to lead the Dutch attack with any success scoring just once as they were knocked out in the group stage.

- At the Bernabeu for Manchester United, Van Persie had great chances to grab a win but could not convert any of them.

Now these instances granted are quite selective, but they are arguably the five biggest moments Van Persie has had on the European stage since 2011 and he has failed to grab them with both hands.

He has the ability, he has proven that, but if he truly wants to be compared with the Ronaldo's and the Messi's of European and World football, the Dutchman needs a standout moment on the big stage.

Fortunately he has just that this Tuesday. The stage is well and truly set for Van Persie to make his mark against Real Madrid, and issue a statement.

If he can't, then he will no doubt be kicking his failure to take the chances in the first leg, but if he can fire United to the quarter-finals it will only boost his confidence further, and strengthen his claims to be regarded up there with the very best.

Do you agree Van Persie has a point to prove against Madrid? Can he? 

image: © Doha Stadium Plus

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