Former Manchester United defender Gordon McQueen believes Michael Carrick is crucial to hopes of keeping Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo quiet in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie at the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo faces his former side for the first time in an competitive fixture since his move to Madrid in 2009, with his reputation as one of the world's best players firmly established.

Questions are rife over how United can prevent Ronaldo from dominating in the knock-out round, but McQueen believes that in Carrick, Sir Alex Ferguson has a solution to the most testing of problems.

Michael Carrick
Carrick can stop Ronaldo according to McQueen.

"Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two players in the world that you know will hurt you if you give them time and space," McQueen told

"In the past he would have had a Roy Keane, Paul Scholes or, more recently, Darren Fletcher doing the marking role, but I think Wednesday is tailor-made for Carrick.

"Carrick came to United as a flair player who sometimes struggled to impose himself physically but he's now a tougher, more disciplined player who can be trusted to do a job on Ronaldo.

"Sir Alex will tell Carrick that he cannot allow Ronaldo to go one-on-one with his defence. I'm sure he'll opt for experience with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the centre but he will expect Carrick to give them good cover.

"It might not be the sort of role he would envisage for himself at United but, if Carrick gets it right and Ronaldo has a quiet game, then it could be the performance that shapes his United career."

Carrick is likely to partner Phil Jones in midfield, as United seek to match up Madrid's 4-2-3-1 formation.

Shinji Kagawa and Antonio Valencia could play either side of Wayne Rooney, who will be required to drop deep, while Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic should return to the centre of a brittle United defence.

Fabio Coentrao will start at left-back ahead of Marcelo for Madrid, Karim Benzema will begin in attack instead of Gonzalo Higuain and Xabi Alonso will take his place in midifield after an injury scare.