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Feb 5, 2013

Cristiano Ronaldo to play despite soreness

Despite muscle soreness, Cristiano Ronaldo said Tuesday he was confident he would be able to see action Wednesday for Portugal in their friendly versus Ecuador.

"My body and soul is with the national team," Ronaldo told Efe News Agency. "It is with great pride that I represent Portugal and whether or not I am at 100 percent I plan to make my contribution."

The forward, who turned 28 Tuesday and who worked out with the team in Guimaraes, said he would meet with coach Paul Bento to review his physical condition and to consider whether the star will need to rest in preparation for Real Madrid's clash against Manchester United next week in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.

Upon his arrival at the team hotel on Monday, fans greeted him with shouts of "Messi, Messi." Ronaldo said he is accustomed to the jeers.

"It is something that I hear all around the world and I have to be prepared to deal with it," he said.

In an interview with the UEFA Champions League magazine, Ronaldo praised former manager Alex Ferguson ahead of Real Madrid's clash. The match will be the first time Ronaldo will face the club with which he spent six years since trading England for Spain in a record $126.2 million deal.

The reigning La Liga champions are struggling in the Spanish league this season and are 16 points behind rival Barcelona, while the Red Devils are currently at the top of the Premier League.

"In my opinion Read Madrid have a better team, but we have to show that on the pitch because United are a very united team and always have been in recent years," Ronaldo told the UEFA Champions League magazine.

"They're a team that always do well, every year they're at the top and therefore a team we respect a lot. It will be an extremely difficult match, especially in Manchester.

"I actually said beforehand that I believed we would draw Manchester United," he said. "I've wanted to face them for some time. I have great memories from my time there."

Ronaldo said he would not celebrate should he net against United, because he still has much admiration for Ferguson.

"He taught me the basis of football. I arrived in Manchester when I was only 18. He managed my career in the best possible way and for me he is one of the most important people in football."

Information from Press Association and Efe News Agency was used in this report.

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