Manchester United latest: Madrid build-up and Rafael comments

Rafael 2

News, views, and rumours relating to Manchester United in the past 24 hours.

Former Manchester United legend turned pundit Gary Neville has warned his former teammates about Cristiano Ronaldo (as if they needed it)’, ahead of their clash with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu this Wednesday evening.

"Ronaldo is a bully. He bullies the weakest defender. He does it all the time," said Neville as he warned them of the “monster” threat he poses to United’s Champions League ambitions.

“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.”

Ronaldo scored a timely hat-trick for Real Madrid on Saturday in their 4-1 La Liga victory over Sevilla.

Meanwhile Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is looking forward to hosting United on Wednesday for what he described as the match “the world is waiting for.”

"People think we are under pressure because a big team will be out, but the people are not waiting for any other game," said the former Chelsea boss.

Meanwhile another La Liga star and former United player Gerard Pique is hoping United knock Real Madrid out of the Champion’s League. The Barcelona defender revealed he had spoken to his former teammate Rio Ferdinand ahead of the clash to wish him well.

“I'd like United to go through because of my history,” Pique told Marca.

“I spoke to Ferdinand and the team's in great shape.”

Back in Manchester, United defender Jonny Evans is ‘ready’ for Real Madrid in what he described as the “glamour tie of the round.”

“Everyone is looking forward to it,” said the Northern Ireland international.

Sir Alex Ferguson spoke in glowing terms about his opponent and former player but, in typical fashion, put Real Madrid in their place with his comments that the Champion’s League is all they have left to chase this season.

“Ronaldo’s form, I have to say, is pivotal to everything Real Madrid do. His goal tally - 179 goals in 178 games - tells its own story.”

He told the press in his press conference,

“I think their target is the European Cup. They got a bad start in the league and were chasing their tail a bit because Barcelona’s form has been incredible. I think Jose has set his targets firmly on the European Cup, no doubt about that.”

Ferguson told the BBC this weekend that he had planned to make 7 changes for United’s game against Everton on Sunday which they won 2-0 at Old Trafford but, after finding out the result of Manchester City’s 3-1 loss at Southampton, he changed his mind.

"When I saw the result yesterday, I knew how important the game would be for us," said the Scot.

United went ahead of the Toffees after just 13 minutes via another fantastic goal from veteran Ryan Giggs. Robin van Persie then doubled United’s lead on the stroke of half-time. United are now 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League in poll position to take the title back from holders Manchester City.

However, right-back Rafael insists he’s not going to get carried away just yet. He called for focus and calm as United head into their clash at the Bernabeu.

“We just have to stay focused and play as we have been doing, Now we can think about Real. It’s an amazing game and we will get some rest and then get ready for that game,” said the Brazilian.

In team news, there are concerns over the fitness of Phil Jones who picked up a calf injury against Everton last weekend. His manager told MUTV,

"He got a kick in the calf and we'll have to monitor it."

Elsewhere three of United’s on-loan players hit the back of the net in their last matches. David Petrucci scored for Peterborough against Michael Keane’s Leicester City, whilst John Cofie netted a goal on his debut for Notts County.

In other news, The Daily Mail reports that United’s players drove to training in brand new Chevrolet’s this morning after the club signed a new £357 million sponsorship deal with the car manufacturer General Motors.

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