• Champions League

Alonso: Occasion will inspire Ronaldo

ESPN staff
March 4, 2013
Cristiano Ronaldo only played a bit-part for Real Madrid in their weekend victory over Barcelona © AP

Cristiano Ronaldo makes his first return to Manchester United on Tuesday with Jose Mourinho and Xabi Alonso predicting Real Madrid's top scorer will get a warm ovation from the Old Trafford crowd.

Alonso is confident the occasion will not get to the former United favourite, who scored 118 goals in six seasons in England before his world record £80 million move to Madrid in 2009.

"I think he will have a great reception but once the kick-off happens, he will just be thinking about doing the best for our team," Alonso said. "Hopefully it will be a great night for him."

The World Cup winner used to line up against Ronaldo in the days when he played for Liverpool against United and Alonso believes the winger, who has scored 185 goals in 184 games for Real, is in the mood to excel.

"It is very different to play with him rather than against him," he said. "I am lucky enough to say he is on my side now. He is in terrific form and he is looking forward to Tuesday."

Sir Alex Ferguson has often praised Ronaldo, who he signed from Sporting Lisbon in 2003 and former Chelsea manager Mourinho is pleased with that recognition.

"I think it is nice that he speaks honestly about Cristiano," Mourinho said. "Any accolades are more than deserved. The reception he gets from the crowd will be well deserved. I was here in the Premier League when he was at Manchester United and am aware how well he did."

Alonso spent five years at Anfield but insisted his status as a former Liverpool player does not affect the tie with United.

"The fact I spent five years playing in England with Liverpool, there was a special rivalry but you don't really need to add anything to this match," Alonso said. "Everyone will be glued to the television watching it."

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