Rafael da Silva
Rafael has enjoyed a successful season with Manchester United, and wants that success to continue in the Champions League. Reuters

Manchester United defender Rafael admits he is taking inspiration from his performance against Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale ahead of his battle with Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League last 16 clash at the Bernabeu.

Rafael was able to keep Bale relatively quiet when United took on Tottenham in January, although Spurs eventually snatched a point thanks to a stoppage time equaliser from Clint Dempsey.

And with the young Brazilian now preparing for his fifth Champions League last 16 appearance, he's using performances such as those against Bale as a reference point ahead of tackling former United man Ronaldo, despite the noted differences between the pair.

"They're both very quick but maybe they are just different," Rafael replied when asked by the Mirror about the similarities between Bale and Ronaldo.

"Ronaldo is right-footed and plays a different type of game.

"He can come inside and shoot with power, but both of them are tough players to come up against."

Rafael and Ronaldo played together for a year before the latter made the move to Spain, and the United youngster is confident he can use his inside knowledge to gain an advantage.

"I know what he can do because I played and trained with him a lot," he explained.

"So he's not the type of opponent where you would say 'he's good but I don't know what he can do'. I know what he can do. If you concentrate, that's the key, reading the game. For me, he's the best player in the world.

"I think he's the complete player and I really like him. I think he's the number one. I'm sure he'll get a good reception back here [in the second leg at Old Trafford]. I think it'll be massive."

United are now 12 points clear of Manchester City in the Premier League, but the club's Champions League aspirations remain equally important.

And with FA Cup games to juggle as well, Rafael insists the United squad possesses enough depth to get through the grueling schedule.

"It's not a problem," he said. "We have a good squad now.

"If everyone is fit we have two teams - two good teams - so if we can split it sometimes, players can get a rest and stay fresh.

"That is always a good point for us. If everyone is fit we definitely have a good squad."