I know what he can do! Man United’s Rafael ready to take on Ronaldo
Rafael insists he is ready to cope with the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo when Manchester United travel to Real Madrid
Rafael has declared himself ready to cope with the attacking threat posed by Cristiano Ronaldo when Real Madrid host Manchester United on Wednesday.
The Red Devils travel to the Bernabeu fresh from opening up a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League table against Everton on Sunday, while Madrid warmed up with a 4-1 win over Sevilla.
All eyes are set to be on Ronaldo as he lines up against his former club for the first time – and although Rafael is a keen admirer of the Portugal international, he insists he is determined to keep him quiet.
“I know what he can do because I played and trained with him a lot,” said the Brazilian.
“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 [at Old Trafford]. I think it’ll be massive.”
Meanwhile, Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain has warned his team-mates that they must “be on their toes” against Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.
“[United] are quite a compact team,” he told the bwin website. “They always make it to the knockout rounds in European competition and we’re going to have to be on our toes.
“But we can do a lot of damage with individual quality and with counter-attacks, although we can’t forget we need to have a solid defence, a winning mentality and team-spirit.”
Real Madrid v Man United: Pre-match facts
• Madrid came out on top in three of the clubs’ four previous encounters – in the semi-finals in 1956-57 and quarter-finals in 1999-2000 and 2002-03 – with United prevailing in the 1967-68 semi-finals.
• The Spanish champions’ home record against England clubs is W6 D4 L2. The last English visitors to beat them were Liverpool, 1-0 victors at this stage in 2008-09.
• United’s record away to Liga clubs is W2 D8 L10. Their last success came at Valencia in the 2010-11 Champions League group stage, Javier Hernández scoring the only goal.
• Sir Alex Ferguson oversaw Aberdeen’s 2-1 defeat of Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners’ Cup final – his first continental trophy.