Real Sociedad
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Deportivo La Coruña
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By ESPN Staff

Sir Alex: Euro refs offer Ronaldo more protection

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Cristiano Ronaldo is offered more protection by referees abroad than he is at home.

However the veteran Scottish boss is convinced the English game will change in light of the serious injury to Arsenal striker Eduardo.

Ronaldo will be in the spotlight tonight when he aims to improve his remarkable 35-goal tally against Roma in Champions League.

Frank De Bleeckere of Belgium will be in charge and Ferguson said: 'Without question it is a different style of refereeing in Europe. In Spain and Italy there is far more protection for the player with the ball. That is good.

'The English game is built on real passion and speed. You do not get these games every week in Europe. There it is played at a more leisurely pace , then speeds up in the last third.

'Our games sees a tackle every 30 seconds so there is more risk of injury.

'But the English game will change now. It has to after the incident involving the Arsenal player.'

Ferguson is likely to hand Paul Scholes his 99th Champions League appearance in this quarter final first leg match.

But the midfielder is taking nothing for granted even though Ferguson has apparently promised to play him should the club reach the final.

Scholes was forced to look on from the sidelines in 1999 when United snatched the crown from Bayern Munich.

It was a huge disappointment for him but at 33 he remains a key figure in Ferguson's plans after a three-month absence with a knee injury.

On the prospect of playing in the final, he said: 'It would mean a lot to me of course but there is still a long way to go. I know the manager will only play me if I am playing well, no matter how many games I have performed in.'

Despite 14 years at United and seven Premier League winners medals Scholes retains a boyish enthusiasm for the game.

He said: 'I still get as much of a buzz now as I did when I made my debut in the Champions League. This is a major competition which everyone wants to win.

'It is a massive game against Roma considering we are at the quarter-final stage of the tournament.'

Scholes was sent off here last year and Ferguson quipped: 'He would be more valuable to me if he stayed on the pitch.

'I was so delighted with his performance against Liverpool (United won 3-0) especially as he has been for three and a half months.

'It was not easy for him when he came back but he has found his form again. As we know he is one of the great players.'