Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make his first return to Old Trafford as Real Madrid are tied with Manchester United in the last 16. The Spanish champions come up against Fergie's men in what is no doubt the pick of the fixtures in this season's Champions League.
Wow! What a tie.
There are so many things we can talk about – but I'll start with a select few. The obvious one is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Manchester United legend makes his return to the Theatre of Dreams for the first time since his £80million move to Los Blancos. Ronaldo won the Champions League with Manchester United in 2008 [as well as countless amounts of other trophies], and this will no doubt be an incredible, emotional return for the Portuguese captain. Cristiano has blossomed since his move to Spain, with 169 goals in 169 games for the Spanish outfit, quite a feat! Ronaldo will be welcomed with a fantastic reception at Old Trafford I'm sure – but will be as keen as ever to see his Real Madrid side progress to the latter stages.
Will Ronaldo celebrate if he scores? A question everyone is thinking, I know.
Well, could this be tie that decides the future manager at Manchester United? OK, maybe a bit far-fetched but there's definitely a case for it. Jose Mourinho, or 'the special one' or even 'the only one', has been linked with the Manchester United hot-seat for years now, and is one of the favourites to take over the job once Sir Alex Ferguson steps down. This game could be an audition for Jose Mourinho, who has had his fair share of encounters against Fergie from his time at Chelsea.
This tie will no doubt be a battle of craft, wit and cunning as the two battle it out in what really is a huge tie. No doubt these two sides WOULD have taken up two of the four semi-final spots, and other teams in the competition will love the fact that two of Europe's heavyweights are battling it out so early, and that one will leave the competition.
How will Manchester United defend against Ronaldo? Obviously – not one man can do it, it will take a team effort by the Red Devils. Rafael has matured this season a lot, but will Fergie give the Brazilian the task of marking one of the worlds greatest players? After his out-lash against Bayern Muncih a few seasons ago in which he saw red? Antonio Valencia could drop into right back for United – the powerful, pacey Ecuadorian would be able to match the Portuguese physically, but lacks the defensive abilities of Rafael. Manchester United would also miss out in his direct, attacking play too, if he were to drop in at right back.
With the first leg being played at the Santiago Bernabeu, Manchester United will have the early opportunity to score the crucial away goal. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez will no doubt be licking their lips at the idea of scoring against Real Madrid - in Madrid, and helping there side progress to the latter stages of the competition.
What does this mean for the rest of the competition? With either Manchester United or Real Madrid facing early elimination from the competition, the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund will see themselves as potential winners of the competition. Although all three have them have difficult ties, [Arsenal v Bayern, AC Milan v Barcelona, Shakhtar v Dortmund] they will no doubt be massive favourites for the tie.
The elimination of one of these two giants will have a massive effect on the competition, and I personally can't wait to see it.