Real Madrid v Manchester United

Ronaldo 'anxious' ahead of United clash

February 13, 2013
By ESPN staff

Real Madrid midfielder Michael Essien says Cristiano Ronaldo is "anxious" to face former team-mates when Manchester United visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

• Palmer: Student to meet the master
• Blog: The United perspective

Ronaldo will take on United for the first time since moving to Spain in 2009, with expectation levels rising ahead of the game.

Much of the talk in the lead-up to the round of 16 Champions League fixture has centred on the Portuguese forward, and Essien revealed it has not gone unnoticed by the player himself.

"Cristiano is anxious; you want to start the game. He is in extraordinary physical condition," Essien said.

"In the Champions League it will be a different game. I'm ready and the team is as well. They have many attackers and it is up us to stop them.

"They are a fantastic team. It's a great game and I can't wait for it to start. We're not scared of being knocked out. It's another great game and the players are all really excited, really looking forward to playing. We know it will be very tough".

Meanwhile, Essien's team-mate Karim Benzema believes manager Jose Mourinho is motivated by the opportunity to defeat old foe Sir Alex Ferguson in the tie.

"I am sure there is something personal for Mourinho," Benzema is quoted as saying in The Sun. "When he was in England, every season he was fighting with Alex Ferguson for the title.

"Mourinho is a big winner and wants to win every game. But you can see what these games against Manchester United mean to him. There is an excitement is his voice."