The teams have been drawn, the date set, the interviews taken. Cristiano Ronaldo will face Manchester United for the first time since leaving the club in 2009 and is easily Real Madrid’s most potent weapon.
We already know how dangerous he can be, but here’s a collection of quotes to reiterate that.
“He’s a monster.”
Those are words of Gary Neville, former Manchester United right-back who played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo for six seasons — when the Portuguese was wooing the crowds at Old Trafford.
“Ronaldo bullies the weakest defender. If he can’t get on the ball he will play centre-forward, midfield, right wing. He just decided his own position, which was based upon where the space was and who was the weak link. He made me realise you didn’t always need to be in your shape. He picks the ball up in an innocuous position, 30 yards out, does some type of shimmy I can’t even describe let alone do, beats a man and whacks it in from 25 yards. You can’t defend against that,” he adds, quoted in The Sun.
Neville admitted that playing with Ronaldo was very different from playing with David Beckham ahead of him.
United midfielder Michael Carrick believes Ronaldo has been incredible for Real Madrid: “I think we will need two or maybe three to mark him to be honest, he’s been that good for Madrid.”
“For the wrong team.”
“I thought Ronaldo scored a great goal again, only it was for the other team.,” quipped the United manager.
“From another planet.”
Jose Mourinho knows that he has one of the best players in the world at his disposal. And it’s well-known that he uses tremendous positivism to get his team ticking.
He keeps calling his players the ‘best’, and even though it hasn’t worked wonders recently, Real Madrid have improved under the Special One.
“Better than me.”
Zinedine Zidane, in 2009, had said: “He does fantastic things, at times even better then me. He makes a difference. Some players are different from the rest because they do what others can”t.”
Those words ring true even now… if not louder than ever.
Banking on emotions
Rio Ferdinand, who could be part of the United defence on Wednesday night, has said: “It’s obviously going to be an emotional night for Ronaldo and a great night for him too. But hopefully it gets too emotional for him.”
He also knows Ronnie isn’t the only one who can dent United: “We’re going to have to use all of our experience, courage and ability to make sure that we stop not only Ronaldo, but the other players they have, because Real are a great team.”
And finally, ex United No.7 David Beckham also thinks Ronaldo is fantastic. Click here to watch the video.
Most of these quotes tell us something we already know. But will they get bigger in number after the game? Or will Ronaldo throw a tantrum and fail against his former club? Come Thursday morning, we’ll know.