MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has promised goals in a fixture fit for the final when his side lock horns with Real Madrid in the Champions League tonight.
Eight previous meetings between the two giants of European football have produced 31 goals, and Ferguson expects that pattern to continue against Jose Mourinho’s team in their highly anticipated last 16, first leg tie in Spain.
“It won’t be 0-0, I can assure you of that,” said the 71-year-old. “History always plays a part in these kinds of matches.
“It’s unfortunate the teams are meeting as early as this. I’d have preferred it to be Wembley [in the final]. When I started as a coach many years ago I dreamt I’d be playing against these teams as a manager.”
Veteran midfielder Paul Scholes, who featured last time the sides met at Old Trafford in 2003, is United’s only absentee with a knee injury, while Madrid will be missing goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has a broken hand.
The spotlight will undoubtedly be on former United star Cristiano Ronaldo who, since swapping Manchester for Madrid in a world record £80m transfer in 2009, has graduated into one of the finest players the game has ever seen.
With 32 goals from 30 club games this season Ferguson insists his former protege is better than ever, but believes in Robin van Persie he has his own superstar.
“He’s [Van Persie] now approaching that [Lionel Messi’s] level,” added the United boss, who has won the competition twice. “He’s been sensational, a good coach to my young players.”
Ferguson knows his toughest opponent tonight will be in the home dugout, as he looks to get the better of Mourinho over 90 minutes for only the third time in the 15th battle of wits between the pair.
But should Mourinho come out on top against his old adversary over two legs, he hopes a record 10th Champions League trophy for Madrid will follow.
“Real Madrid want to win a 10th European Cup and I want to win my third,” said the Portuguese coach.
“I will keep fighting until I do it. I have confidence in my work.”
JOSE: ENGLAND NEXT
FORMER Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has opened the door for a possible return to Stamford Bridge, after admitting his future lies in England.
Mourinho is expected to leave Real Madrid in the summer and said: “I love everything [about England]. England will be my next step.”