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UEFA League: Ferguson Relishes Madrid Showdown

21 Dec 2012

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211212N.Cristiano-Ronaldo-(.jpg - 211212N.Cristiano-Ronaldo-(.jpg

Cristiano Ronaldo (L) will be facing his former Manchester United team mate, Wayne Rooney in the UEFA Champions League

BBC

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United's clash with Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League is the tie of the round.

The giants have not met since the 2003 quarter-finals of the Champions League, when Real Madrid won 6-5 on aggregate.

Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford for the first time since his £80m move to the Bernabeu in June 2009, reports the BBC.

"Well, it's the tie of the round," Ferguson, who will resume his rivalry with Jose Mourinho, told manutd.com .

The managers have not faced each other since United knocked Mourinho's Inter Milan out of the Champions League in the 2009 quarter-finals.

Ferguson said: "It's a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also for me to meet up with Jose [Mourinho] again - I'll need to order some good wine!"

Nine-times European champions Real won the home leg of their 2003 tie 3-1 but only progressed to the last four courtesy of a virtuoso second-leg performance from the Brazilian Ronaldo.

While United won the match 4-3, his hat-trick - for which he was applauded off the Old Trafford pitch - was enough to give the Spanish side a 6-5 aggregate victory.

United defender Rio Ferdinand, who played in the tie, tweeted:  "Oh yes, Madrid!! What a great couple a games that'll be! @Cristiano see u soon bro!"

Club secretary John Alexander said: "Out of several stand-out ties, I think this is the one. If history has anything in our favour our one [aggregate] victory against Real Madrid in this competition was in the season when we won the final at Wembley [in 1968]."

Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno said it would be a special match for Ferguson and Mourinho, who will meet for the 15th time in the first leg at the Bernabeu.

"I know the coaches have a great relationship," he stated. "Sir Alex Ferguson knows how to get the best out of his players and they have top players, but we are Real Madrid and we will try our best.

"We are very happy with him [Mourinho] and I hope he's going to lead the team to the Champions League [title] to make our fans feel proud of the team."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon, meanwhile, is looking forward to a "beauty" of a tie against Italian champions Juventus.

"In terms of glamour, it's a beauty," he said. "Juventus are one of the great traditional European teams. So in terms of glamour it's great, in terms of qualification it is going to be very tough."

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is optimistic his side will see off Arsenal.

"We enter this match as the slight favourites but we can make the mistake of underestimating them," said the German.

"Arsenal have struggled at times in the league over the last few months, which a look upon the standings in the Premier League will tell you.

"We want to set the foundations with a good performance in London - that would make things easier for us in our home game."

The first legs will be played on February 12/13 or 19/20, with the return matches on March 5/6 or 12/13.

Tags: Sports, World, UEFA League, Ferguson, MADRID

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