Manchester // Sir Alex Ferguson has acknowledged that Cristiano Ronaldo will cause Manchester United more problems on his first return to Old Trafford but has told his players not to fear their former teammate.
"What do you expect when you play against a team with Ronaldo in it? You expect problems on the night," Ferguson asked rhetorically before answering his own question. "We have to try and curtail that as best as we can. It won't be easy because he does it every week."
Rafael will again be charged with keeping the Portuguese quiet but Ferguson is also eager to stress that his side can harm Jose Mourinho's team.
"The experience young Rafa had in the first half over in Madrid will hopefully help him because he will be given the same task again," Ferguson said. "I don't think it's one we should fear. If you go in worrying about the damage Cristiano can give us then we forget what we can do ourselves."
Ferguson has played down suggestions that Mourinho is being lined up as his successor at Old Trafford, adding: "You get this question all the time and I can't answer it because I am still the manager here. It is impossible to discuss who is going to replace me because there is no timescale to it."
United will be without the injured Phil Jones, who will not recover from his ankle problem in time to play and, besides facing a dilemma in the centre of midfield, Ferguson is also unsure which two of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans to select in the centre of defence.
"We will make a decision and hopefully we will be right," Ferguson said.
One player who is certain to be involved is Ryan Giggs, who will make his 1,000th senior appearance, either as a starter or a substitute.
"You never think you are going to get to 1,000 games," the 39 year old said. "I'm obviously proud of playing that many."
A proud moment came, too, in the first leg when he was applauded on to the pitch by the Madrid supporters.
"It was great for me and I thank the Madrid fans for the welcome they did give me," he said.
"You go on the Bernabeu pitch and get clapped by the Madrid fans and it was something special for me."
Rafael v Cristiano Ronaldo
This was an enthralling duel in the first leg, with United’s Brazilian right-back doing a decent containing job on his former teammate. Ronaldo drifts around the pitch, but spends a lot of time on the left, cutting in to shoot. Another top performance from Rafael is needed for the home side.
Though a 0-0 draw would see United through, do not expect them to sit back and defend. Madrid need to score, United hope to score, and both sides are stronger in attack than in defence. It points to an open game.
Twice in the Champions League (in 2000 and 2003) these teams have met in a knockout stage second leg at Old Trafford. And twice Real Madrid have qualified. In 2000, Redondo inspired a 3-2 win. In 2003, United won 4-3 on the night, but lost 6-5 on aggregate with the Brazilian Ronaldo’s hat-trick earning him a standing ovation.
Man United (4-4-2) De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa, Nani; Rooney, Van Persie
Real Madrid (4-5-1) Lopez; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Alonso, Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema
X-United have only two clean sheets in their past 10 home Champions League games.
X-Jose Mourinho has never won a Champions League game at Old Trafford.
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