United to face a Real challenge

London: Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford for the first time since they left England, after Manchester United were pitted against Spanish champions Real Madrid in an enticing knockout round of the Champions League.

It will be a testing time for the Alex Ferguson's side as the top placed club readies for the big battle.

The only other English side, Arsenal, will face last season's beaten finalists Bayern Munich while Celtic will take on Italian champions Juventus as they look for a place in the quarter finals.

In the other matches, Barcelona will take on AC Milan, German champions Borussia Dortmund face Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia play Paris St Germain, Porto encounter Spanish side Malaga and Galatasaray will come up against Schalke.

United defender Rio Ferdinand played in the 2003 match against Real Madrid, as did Ryan Giggs, while Darren Fletcher was a substitute although he did not come on. Ferdinand wrote on Twitter: "Oh yes, Madrid!! What a great couple a games that'll be!! @Cristiano see u soon bro!!"

United's club secretary John Alexander hoped there was a lucky omen in the draw.

He said: "Out of several standout ties, I think this is the one. Every one will be watching out for Wayne Rooney and ofcourse Robin van Persie.

"It's the tie that everyone wanted to see ' but that nobody wanted to see, they wanted to save it for later in the competition.

"When you think about the traditions of these two clubs they have both been incredibly successful, but of course the past is history.

"One thing going in our favour is that our one victory over Real Madrid in this competition was in the year we won the final at Wembley [in 1968] so let's hope that is a lucky omen."

It was another Ronaldo ' the Brazilian striker ' who took the honours when the clubs last faced each other in 2003, scoring a hat-trick at Old Trafford as Real went through 6-5 on aggregate.

The clubs first met in the European Cup in April 1957, when Real triumphed 5-3 in the semi-final. Cristiano Ronaldo's last match for United was in the Champions League final defeat by Barcelona, after which he moved to Madrid for a world record �80million transfer fee.

United have a slight advantage over Real in that as group winners they will get to play the second leg at home.

Meanwhile, Barcelona director Amador Bernabeu said the tie, which opens in Milan, would be a meeting of two "important, classic teams."

Arsenal and Celtic, who were group runners-up, will both play their second legs away.


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.