Cristiano Ronaldo is more than ready for his emotional return to Old Trafford next week and is confident Real Madrid can come away with a victory to propel them into the Champions League quarter-finals.
After scoring twice in Real Madrid's 3-1 win at rivals Barcelona in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Tuesday night, Ronaldo, right, declared: "We played a great game. We faced the game with a serious attitude, played better and scored three goals, which is tough to do. We want to continue in the same vein. This game gives us enormous confidence for the trip to Manchester."
Sir Alex Ferguson watched Ronaldo from the stands on Tuesday night, and will be well aware just how much danger his former protégé poses to United, with the scores level at 1-1 from the first leg at the Bernabeu.
The prolific goalscorer's importance to the Real team was acknowledged by his captain Iker Casillas. "Cristiano is vital for us," said the Real goalkeeper. "Right now he's in sensational form and gives us his maximum."
As for the second leg of the United tie, Casillas added: "We have to score and keep a clean sheet. It will be difficult as they also know how to play and their ground is tough to play at. We have to transfer what we did here at the Nou Camp to Old Trafford."
As Ronaldo scored for a sixth straight game at Barcelona, his former United team-mate Rio Ferdinand poured cold water on claims that Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale's current unstoppable form puts him up there in the same class as Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
Bale's two goals in Monday's victory at West Ham United, including a last-minute winner, took his tally for the campaign to 15 and lifted Tottenham above Chelsea and into third place in the Premier League. But as rumours circulated of Real Madrid's interest in bringing Bale to the Bernabeu, Ferdinand offered some caution.
While accepting that the Spurs player is one of the two top players in England on current form, along with Ferdinand's Old Trafford team-mate Robin van Persie, he tweeted: "People mentioning Bale in the same breath as [Ronaldo] and Messi really don't know football! Bale [has] been one of the best two in [the Premier League] this year but he is not on Ronaldo's and Messi's level yet.
"[If] he carries on doing what he is doing for two to three years then there can be a debate. Bale showed me a clean pair of heals [sic] once this year so I'm in a good position to judge! Ronaldo and Messi have been on another planet for four to five years."
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