Soccer: Ronaldo returns to Man United in Champions League

Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:01am EST
 

(Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Manchester United with nine-times winners Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 and Lionel Messi's Barcelona take on AC Milan.

Bayern Munich, last season's beaten finalists, play Arsenal and Juventus take on surprise qualifiers Celtic. Big-spending Paris St Germain will face Valencia.

But the fate of the two Spanish giants in Thursday's draw at UEFA headquarters attracted most interest and both were pitted against clubs with decades of European experience.

Real, the Spanish champions, have been disappointing in La Liga this season and they finished second in their Champions League group behind Borussia Dortmund.

But Ronaldo will be desperate for Real to rise to the occasion against the club at which he won the European Cup in 2008 and developed into a world-class forward.

Real manager Jose Mourinho, once of Chelsea, will also come up against his old rival Alex Ferguson.

"I'm sure it's going to be a special game for him (Ronaldo)," said Emilio Butragueno, Real Madrid's director of institutional relations. "I think the fans will be very, very happy with this very attractive, thrilling tie.

"It will be a great experience for everybody."

Barcelona are now 2-1 favorites to win the Champions League although they could hardly have picked a club with more experience of success in Europe in seven-times winners AC Milan when the competition resumes in mid-February.   Continued...

 
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo looks on during their Spanish First Division soccer match against Espanyol at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid December 16, 2012. REUTERS/Juan Medina