Real Madrid vs Manchester United is the pick of a last 16 Champions League draw that also pairs Spanish favorites Barcelona with Italian giants AC Milan.
Real Madrid vs Manchester United will see Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo return to United’s Old Trafford ground for the first time since his £80m ($130m) transfer in June 2009.
It will also see the coming together of two legendary soccer coaches: United’s Alex Ferguson and Madrid’s Jose Mourinho. The two men will face each other for the 15th time in the first leg on February 13, 2013.
Elsewhere in Friday’s draw, a Lionel Messi-powered Barcelona will play AC Milan, with the Catalan side favorites to win another Champions League title.
Other eye-catching games in the draw include Arsenal against 2012 finalists Bayern Munich and Valencia facing big spenders Paris St Germain. Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund will play Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto take on Malaga, Galatasaray will go up against Schalke, and Celtic will play Juventus.
But the big-ticket game of the round is undoubtedly Real Madrid vs Manchester United. The last time the two sides met in 2003, Madrid triumphed 6-5 over the two legs, with another Madrid star called Ronaldo dominating the tie. This time, it was legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who hit a stunning hat-trick at Old Trafford.
Madrid have come out on top of European encounters with United, winning games in 1957, 2000, and 2003. The one time United did triumph (in 1968), the Manchester team went on to lift the European Cup.
Despite history being against the English side, manager Alex Ferguson says he is relishing facing Madrid and Mourinho again. Speaking to manutd.com, Ferguson said:
“It’s the tie of the round. It’s a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also for me to meet up with Jose [Mourinho] again – I’ll need to order some good wine!”
Ferguson is not the only one looking forward to the showdown. Manchester United defender reached out to former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo on Twitter, messaging the star:
Oh yes, Madrid!! What a great couple a games that’ll be!! @cristiano see u soon bro!!
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) December 20, 2012
The first legs of each tie will be played on either February 12/13 or 19/20, with the return matches taking place on March 5/6 or 12/13.
Champions League round of 16 draw
Galatasaray v FC Schalke
Celtic v Juventus
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
AC Milan v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Manchester United
Valencia v Paris St Germain
FC Porto v Malaga