How Manchester United can stop Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid welcome Manchester United to the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash on Wednesday. Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson renew old rivalries but the spotlight will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, who faces the Premier League leaders for first time since his record-breaking move to the La Liga giants in 2009.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Where to Watch Live

Kick-off is set for 7.45pm GMT, with Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 2 HD, Sky Go and Sky Sports Events Centre providing live coverage in the UK.


Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances for United before moving to Real, where he has since improved his strike rate, having already netted a record 182 times in 179 matches. The Portuguese superstar posted the 21th hat-trick of his career against Sevilla at the weekend, overtaking Paco Gento and moving to sixth position in the club's all-time scoring charts.

Real come into this match off the back of an emphatic 4-1 win over Sevilla, which has worked to mask over a turbulent domestic campaign, with the club third behind local rivals Atletico Madrid, a 16 points behind leaders Barcelona. United, on the other hand, recorded a 2-0 win over Everton at the weekend, to extend their lead over Manchester City to 12 points at the Premier League summitt, with only 12 matches remaining.

van Persie and Rooney train

However, the omens are good for Mourinho as he heads into this fixture, with the Portuguese tactician having knocked out English opposition twice, in United in 2004 with FC Porto and Chelsea in 2010 with Inter Milan, on his way to winning his two Champions League crowns.

United do not have a good record in Spain and have won only two of their 13 away Champions League matches against a Spanish opposition, that winning coming in last season's competition, away at Valencia. The 19-time English league champions have also conceded three goals in three of their last four visits to the Bernabeu.

The tie evokes memories of the last time these two sides met in the Champions League back in 2003, with two memorable ties being crowned by a super hat-trick from Brazilian striker Ronaldo at Old Trafford, which handed Madrid a 6-5 win on aggregate.

Form Guide

Real Madrid

  • Last Five Games (all competitions, most recent first): W L D W D
  • Last Match: Real Madrid 4-1 Sevilla

Manchester United

  • Last Five Games (all competitions, most recent first): W W W W D
  • Last Match: Manchester United 2-0 Everton

Team News

Real Madrid: Mourinho will be without captain Iker Casillas (fractured hand) and hence January panic buy Diego Lopez is set to continue in goal. Pepe returned from the sidelines with a substitute appearance against Sevilla and is a favourite to start against United ahead of Raphael Varane. Xabi Alonso is also available after the veteran midfielder resumed training last week.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Lopez; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao; Khedira, Alonso; Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo; Benzema

Manchester United: Both Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher are unavailable through injury and illness, but are the only absentees for the trip to Madrid. Phil Jones (thigh) and Jonny Evans (knock), both of whom were forced off against Everton on Sunday have travelled, as have Ashley Young and Anders Lindegaard.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Jones, Carrick; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa; Van Persie