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Feb 7, 2013

Ronaldo ready to knock United out

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo says Manchester United remain close to his heart but he has no qualms about knocking them out of the Champions League.

• Ronaldo unsure over Jose future

The Premier League leaders travel to Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday for their Champions League last-16 first leg, with the return game being held at Old Trafford on March 5.

Ronaldo, who moved to Manchester in 2003 aged just 18, told AS: "It will be special because everyone knows I played for six years at 'El Manchester' and I have a lot of affection for the club, but a game is a game - I am not going to war, just to play and enjoy it, trying to help my team to knock them out."

Spending this week with former United team-mate Nani around Portugal's 3-2 friendly defeat to Ecuador - in which Ronaldo played an hour and scored - had helped whet his appetite for the upcoming encounters.

"I spoke with Nani here with Portugal and we have joked about the tie, but nothing special," he said. "It will a great European duel. I do not forget that in front of us will be the best team in England."

Ronaldo said he hoped the games would bring moments to match those which have occurred in clashes between the two European giants down through the decades.

"They are always very beautiful games for the fans, and very emotional," he said. "I am sure this tie will leave us with moves and goals to remember. They will be two difficult games, especially with the return leg at Old Trafford - a very nice stadium where the fans never stop signing and lifting their own."

He added: "I have a very good relationship with Alex Ferguson and meeting again will be a very nice moment for me and for him. It will also be special to meet the Old Trafford fans again. They have always treated me well. I have a lot of affection for them."

Ronaldo, who left the Red Devils in 2009 for £80 million, also repeated his claim earlier this week that Real Madrid have a better team than Manchester United but must prove their superiority on the pitch.

"You cannot say we are favourites as it is a tie between two great clubs," he said. "I believe we are a better team, but now we have to show it on the pitch."

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