12.15pm: Good afternoon. Daniel Taylor will be online from 1pm to take part in a live webchat.

With a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League, Alex Ferguson can afford to direct his concentration to the European stage. The Manchester United manager has few regrets about his long career, but he often cites his relative lack of European trophies as a source of frustration. Ferguson has won the Champions League twice, in 1999 and 2008, but believes he should have won the trophy more often.

If United are to have any chance of winning this season's competition, they need to perform well in the Bernabéu tonight. Ferguson says the tie against Real Madrid will be "the acid test" for the squad he has put together since Barcelona took his team apart in the 2011 final.

Ferguson has a poor record against José Mourinho and he will have to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since 2003, when the young Sporting Lisbon winger tormented the United defence to the extent that they petitioned Ferguson to buy him. Ronaldo grew up during his six years at Old Trafford, but he has developed into a more complete player in Madrid.

Ferguson is wary of his former player's talent: "Ronaldo is the one to worry about. His speed, his goals, he plays every week, never asks for a rest. These qualities are exceptional. He was a young man when he left us, but he has flourished and is a better player now."

The United manager could deploy Phil Jones to do a spoiling job on Ronaldo, but whether employing an extra centre-back in midfield will stop a team packed full of talent remains to be seen. Whatever line-ups are picked, it should be a fascinating game of football.

If you have any questions for Daniel, drop them into the comments section below.

1.00pm: Daniel Taylor is online answering questions about tonight's match.

NimeshMistry kicks things off with a request: "Prediction?"

Daniel replies:

If you're asking me for a score, I'd take a stab at 2-1 to Madrid, but I'm slowly starting to think Madrid might be a little bit more vulnerable than I first realised.

I don't want to read too much into a press conference but it was quite revealing yesterday just how different the mood was in the two camps. Ferguson was in good form, cracking jokes, making it obvious he loves the big occasions and he described it as a "fantastic moment" for United. They're 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and they can actually enjoy this game – if 'enjoy' is the right word.

Madrid, in comparison, just feels like a club under strain. There was a really bad vibe at Mourinho's press conference. He didn't have any of the spark that you would usually associate him with and it reminded me a bit of his last few months at Chelsea.

This is the guy, remember, who used to use press conferences to promote the sense that his team couldn't be beaten etc. All he did yesterday was just bring it home (certainly to the English journalists) how unhappy he currently is and that Madrid are not going into this game in a great state of mind.

1.05pm: CloudCastle asks about United's options on the right wing: "Do you think Fergie will start Valencia, given how poorly he's been playing recently?"

Daniel replies:

I think he probably will because he offers quite a bit defensively too, certainly more so than Nani and Young, but I wouldn't guarantee it because, as you point out, he's out of form, he's stopped beating his man, his crossing has been erratic and he's started to look low on confidence, too.

A Portuguese journalist friend of mine told me yesterday that Ferguson had asked Nani recently if he was ready to be involved. There's a difference between that obviously and "you're in" but it wouldn't totally surprise me. Nani's not been in great form himself this season, when fit, and he's pretty disenchanted with the club for a few reasons. But if you could coax a performance out of him, he can still be a very good, penetrative (if sometimes infuriating) wide player. It might give Madrid something more to think about defensively anyway, if the key for United is getting that away goal.

1.15pm: BerbaForPresident asks: "Do you think Ferguson will use Jones to tackle Ronaldo, given that he is more versatile than Fellaini, and Jones played three days ago? Or will he ask Valencia and Rafael to double up in attack and defence on the right, given how effective it was against Chelsea? What are the odds on Vidic playing so soon again after his last match?"

Daniel replies:

Jones will certainly be an option but it's still pretty rare to see Ferguson put someone in a man-marking job and, in Fellaini's case, I think a lot of it was to reduce the aerial threat, too.

I wonder if it might be more effective for Ferguson to look at what Jurgen Klopp did with Borussia Dortmund and concentrate more on cutting out the source. And that source is more often than not Xabi Alonso. Klopp asked Gotze to drop back a little and pick up the space where Alonso is at his best and maybe Rooney could do the same?

As for Vidic, it's a difficult one – the last time he played back-to-back games there was eight days in it and, before then, he hasn't done it since his knee injury. Equally, I'd be pretty staggered if Ferguson hasn't been preparing for this match with the Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra back four. Let's be honest, who would you want out there: Vidic or Evans? No disrespect to Evans, he's a much improved defender etc, but Vidic still makes an enormous difference when he's fully fit.

The surprising thing perhaps is that if Ferguson does go for that back four it would be only the third time De Gea has played behind that quartet.

1.18pm: pabloelbrujo asks: "If Ronaldo scores tonight do you think he will celebrate? Players should be able to celebrate when they score against any team. I don't see what the fuss is all about – unless my team is involved and then they are bang out of order!"

Daniel replies:

My feelings entirely!

We had this debate last night at dinner and the general consensus was that he would try not to over-celebrate but not be able to resist it. I'd expect, at the very least, that expression he does – nodding approvingly at his own brilliance.

1.23pm: Soothsayer7 asks: "Could Mourinho's performance at the press conference be an act, to somehow give the impression Madrid and not United head into this tie as underdogs? Whatever else he may be, the man is a master of the press room."

Daniel replies:

But what would he be achieving by creating the impression that it's not a happy camp and fuelling more negative press? I don't think anyone came out of the press room suddenly thinking that Madrid are the new underdogs. If the two teams both play well, I think just about everyone would imagine Madrid are the superior team.

It was just very revealing how little spark he had, how morose he was, how it was very obvious that this guy, the showman, the Special One etc, was - how can I put it? – out of form himself.

As I said earlier, you can read too much into a press conference but it really brought home what a bad vibe there is at the Bernabéu right now.

1.31pm: Kemuri asks: "Do you consider this Champions League a potential swansong for Ferguson?"

Daniel replies:

Bloody hell. I wish I knew the answer to that (and I'm sure my sports editor wishes I knew too).

If United actually win it, then yes, you'd have to imagine he should think long and hard about going out at the top. Equally, how many times have we said that before? Every time he just points out that, whatever happens, he's already decided to carry on as long as he feels his health is good.

One of his staff at Old Trafford was telling me recently how there's absolutely no sign of Ferguson letting up in his workload, still "as sharp as a pin". Ferguson was asked yesterday about his future and said he wanted to carry on. Yes, he does tell an extraordinary number of lies in press conferences but there's no indication at all he is looking at ending it all in May.

1.37pm: CloudCastle asks: "Ferguson said he had planned more changes to the lineup for the Everton game until he saw the City result. Does that suggest his line-up tonight will be more like the team that player Fulham, where he started with Valencia, Carrick, Nani and Cleverley in midfield? Given how well Giggs played at the weekend, why would you leave him out? And he has said Kagawa will play a role – starting or off the bench?"

Daniel replies:

Call us a bunch of old cynics (or worse) but I don't think anyone in the press room after the Everton game, certainly not the more experienced Ferguson-watchers, believed that line.

It felt more like him getting out of the fact he had said, in his complaints about Sky, that he would be forced to make 10 or 11 changes but of course never did. Sometimes with Ferguson, it's better not to take everything he says at face value. Though I'm pretty sure he would say that about the journalists too.

The honest answer is I don't think anyone outside of his chosen circle knows his line-up as yet. He talked at length about Kagawa and said he had deliberately left him out against Everton to make sure he wasn't too exhausted after playing for Japan last week. I can't see Giggs starting after playing three days ago. But it wouldn't surprise me at all if, for example, Kagawa played as an attacking midfielder and Rooney moved over to the left.

1.56pm: Unfortunately Danny has lost his internet connection and will not be able to get it back in time to answer any more questions. He's off to the Bernabéu fairly shortly, but we will have another webchat tomorrow morning to discuss the match.

We have a lot to read on the site today. Marina Hyde has taken a look at the unlikely friendship between Alex Ferguson and José Mourinho. Ian McCourt has been putting his linguistic skills to good use in the paper review of Celtic's defeat to Juventus. And Sid Lowe has been writing about David de Gea's return to Madrid this evening.

Enjoy the game.