Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo has said he cannot wait to take on some old friends when Real Madrid host Manchester United in the Champions League next week.
The clash between two sides that have won the competition a combined 12 times is by far the stand-out tie of the last 16 and Ronaldo said his wish was granted when the Spanish champions were paired with his old club back in December.
“I actually said beforehand that I believed we would draw Manchester United. I've wanted to face them for some time,” he said in an interview published on UEFA.com.
“I have great memories from my time there. I was there for six years. I have a lot of friends there, people I will see with great pleasure - it will be a match with a lot of emotions.”
The two sides have had contrasting seasons so far, with United leading the English Premier League by nine points, while Madrid are 16 points adrift of Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
However, the Portuguese captain is still of the opinion that it is his current employers who possess the better squad.
“They're a team that always do well, every year they're at the top and therefore a team we respect a lot.
“It will be an extremely difficult match, especially in Manchester.
“I believe things will go well. In my opinion, Real Madrid have a better team, but we have to show that on the pitch because United are a very united team and always have been in recent years.”
The first leg will take place at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, February 13, before the return at Old Trafford on Tuesday, March 5.
Of the four times the two have met in European competition, United have emerged victorious only once - in 1968 on their way to winning the European Cup for the first time.
The last time their paths crossed it was Madrid who progressed to the semi-finals with a memorable 6-5 victory on aggregate back in 2003. – Sapa-AFP