Manchester United to welcome Cristiano Ronaldo while plotting goodbye
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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo can expect a rousing Old Trafford welcome on Tuesday before his former Manchester United team mates use a new-found defensive solidity to try to make those the last Champions League cheers he hears this season.
The last-16 tie between the two European giants is balanced on a knife edge after last month's 1-1 draw in the first leg and with United holding the tiniest of advantages in the shape of an away goal this week's glamour match could be a tight affair.
United go into the game looking a lot more secure at the back than earlier this season with four successive league clean sheets coming at just the right time before being faced with the all-too-familiar talents of fan favourite Ronaldo.
"Early on in the season we were conceding too many goals," United striker Wayne Rooney, who forged a lethal partnership with Ronaldo before the Portuguese left northwest England in 2009, told MUTV.
"We seemed to have coped with that, we're not conceding and we're scoring goals so we're in a great position at the minute. So, hopefully we can continue for Tuesday."
United warmed up with a 4-0 victory over Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday to go 15 points clear at the top of the table.
The trouble for them is that Real are enjoying their own good run after two morale-boosting results against arch-rivals Barcelona last week, a 3-1 win in the King's Cup and 2-1 victory in La Liga.
United manager Alex Ferguson said his team's focus had been on trying to stifle Real's threat on the break.
"We know that Madrid are one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe," he told reporters. "That is what we will be up against on Tuesday and that is why our preparations are centred around making sure their counter-attack doesn't kill us."
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