21st of December 2012 Author: Glo Wood
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United's clash with Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League is the most exciting tie of the round. The two soccer giants have not met since the 2003 quarter-finals of the Champions League, when Real Madrid won 6-5 on aggregate. Moreover, Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford for the first time since his £80m move to Real Madrid in June 2009.
"Well, it's the tie of the round," Ferguson said. The two managers have not faced each other since United knocked Mourinho's Inter Milan out of the Champions League in the 2009 quarter-finals. Ferguson added: "It's a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also for me to meet up with Jose Mourinho again - I'll need to order some good wine!"
Nine-times European champions Real won the home leg of their 2003 tie 3-1 but only progressed to the last four courtesy of a sensational second-leg performance from the Brazilian Ronaldo. United won the match 4-3, but Ronaldo's hat-trick was enough to give the Spanish side a 6-5 aggregate victory.
United defender Rio Ferdinand, who played in that tie, tweeted: "Oh yes, Madrid!! What a great couple a games that'll be! @Cristiano see u soon bro!" Manchester United club secretary John Alexander said: "Out of several stand-out ties, I think this is the one. If history has anything in our favour our one aggregate victory against Real Madrid in this competition was in the season when we won the final at Wembley in 1968."
On the other hand, Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno said it would be a special match for both Ferguson and Mourinho, who will meet for the 15th time in the first leg at the Bernabeu. "I know the coaches have a great relationship," he said. "Sir Alex Ferguson knows how to get the best out of his players and they have top players, but we are Real Madrid and we will try our best. We are very happy with Mourinho and I hope he's going to lead the team to the Champions League title to make our fans feel proud of the team."
The first legs will be played on February 12/13 or 19/20, with the return matches on March 5/6 or 12/13. Here are the odds from Bet365 for the first leg:
Real Madrid win - 4/7
Draw - 31/10
Manchester United win - 9/2
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