Gary Neville warns Manchester United about possible 'nightmare scenario' against Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid forward will be the greatest threat when the teams meet in the Champions League


Manchester United must avoid the "nightmare scenario" of Cristiano Ronaldo going one-on-one against a former team-mate in the Champions League last-16 tie in the Bernabeu tomorrow, by assigning several players to snuff out his threat, the club's former captain Gary Neville said tonight.

"When you are up against a player of that quality – just like a Luis Figo, a Brazilian Ronaldo or the Ronaldinho of six years ago – there is really only one solution," Neville told The Independent. "I don't care how good a defender you are, you will very probably suffer if you play one-v-one against him. The only real way to snuff him out is a numbers game."

Though Sir Alex Ferguson billeted Phil Jones – who has recovered from a slight calf strain and is available – in a man-to-man marking role on Everton's Marouane Fellaini on Sunday, it is more likely that two players will double up against Ronaldo, who tends to play on the left of the three behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1. It is a night for which Ferguson could have badly done with Darren Fletcher, whose colitis rules him out for the medium-term.

"I know better than most that as a defender you will be playing in quite a few situations where you are up against someone who has more skill and speed than you," Neville added. "There are other ways of dealing with him. That might mean being physical when you need to be. It might be mental, taking up the right positions against him and being aware.

"You may have one outstanding game when you can stop him but the likelihood is that at some point in the game there will be a problem. You might get too tight. He might wrong-foot you and drive in. It might just be a bit of luck going against you. That's how you deal with a Neymar, or how United dealt with Gareth Bale last month. Jones shuffled across and helped Rafael da Silva snuff out the threat. You crowd the areas where those players operate and discourage them from thinking they can take three or four of you on.

"If you are there in numbers, one of you goes and has a little nibble because there are others behind you. You are discouraging him from doing what he wants to do. The worst-case scenario is a one v one. That is a nightmare scenario."

Jonny Evans, who suffered cramp against Everton, is also fit for tomorrow, though Ferguson is likely to partner Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in central defence – the only doubt in the manager's mind being that Vidic is yet to play two games in succession since returning from knee surgery in December. He has played alternate matches for the past month.

Ronaldo works far more on reaction and timing than the flicks and tricks of his six seasons at Old Trafford, with 32 of his goals coming from open play last season in La Liga and 20 from first touches.

Ferdinand cautioned against too much focus on Ronaldo. "We are going to have to use all of our experience and ability to stop not only Ronaldo, but the others," Ferdinand said. "It's going to be emotional for Ronaldo... but hopefully it gets too emotional for him."


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon


Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London