x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Champions League: Sir Alex Ferguson will not worry about Ronaldo

Sir Alex Ferguson says Manchester United cannot get too wrapped up in worrying about Cristiano Ronaldo, and Ryan Giggs is proud to reach 1,000 games, reports Richard Jolly.

Sir Alex Ferguson, centre, says his side cannot worry about what Cristiano Ronaldo can do for Real Madrid.
Sir Alex Ferguson, centre, says his side cannot worry about what Cristiano Ronaldo can do for Real Madrid.

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.

Ronaldo scored Real Madrid's goal in the 1-1 draw of their Uefa Champions League first-leg tie and has struck 185 times in 184 club games since his £80 million (Dh442m) move to Spain in 2009.

"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."

 

 

KEY BATTLES


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.

Tactics

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.

 

Previous meetings

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.

 

Probable line-ups

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

 

Facts

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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