The Andy Gray Column: Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United with Real Madrid is top European tie

By Mancunian Matters staff ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to Mancunian Matters…

I’d love to be thinking I’m really confident all three British sides are going through to the Champions League quarter-finals, but I’m really not.

I don’t think the British teams have been given an easy route at all. It’s going to be incredibly difficult for Celtic, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford just makes United against Real Madrid a standout tie.

They had a Ronaldo in the side then, who was arguably the best player in the world at that time, and he showed it with his ability in that game in 2003.

I can remember the game well, and the Old Trafford crowd. They will be hoping that they don’t have to suffer the same kind of fate.

That game was two giants coming together and it’s going to happen again. Those were two unbelievable games of football and come February we’re in for a fantastic couple of games again.

There certainly won’t be any surprises for United when it comes to Cristiano Ronaldo. They will know all about the man.

If anything he’s gone on to become even better than he was with United in the Premier League. They’ll be hoping that he’s not quite at his best.

It will be emotional for him. He loves United, the players he worked with and the manager.

I would think that if he scores he would be respectful to the crowd. I don’t suspect he’ll be running around the pitch, I suspect it will be a fairly subdued celebration.

Jose Mourinho knows how to beat Sir Alex Ferguson but he’s always come in with a good team, and he will do again this time.

That does help when you can go into Old Trafford and you can trust your team and know that they will play well.

But Jose will do what he always does, he’ll try and take all the pressure away from his players, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made some headlines in the buildup to the game that put the attention on him.

It will be tough for Arsenal. We’ve seen at close hand with Borussia Dortmund just how good German football is at the moment, the way they dismantled Manchester City in the Champions League group stages.

And when you think they’re not the best team in Germany this year – Bayern Munich are – that is a measure of the level Arsenal are going to have to reach if they’re going to get through this tie.

This is a real big ask. Certainly if they played right now you’d fancy Bayern.

But we’ve got to wait until February and things can change in a couple of months – they might be without a couple of big players and Arsenal might be on a good run of form.

It’s a real mouthwatering fixture, no doubt – the Bundesliga leaders, the biggest team in Germany, who feel they should’ve won the Champions League last year.

You get the feeling they will be trying to make amends this year which again makes it really difficult for Arsenal.

Celtic have drawn Juventus and while it could have been worse for them it could also have been better.

There are a few sides in there like Schalke, Porto, PSG and Malaga who won their groups that could have made it an easier tie for Celtic.

Juventus are good this year – solid at the back, don’t give many goals away and will be really difficult to break down.

Andrea Pirlo is enjoying another Indian summer but they don’t have a great attack. The likes of Mirko Vucinic etcetera are not top, top European strikers so they rely a lot on their midfield to get goals for them, and at the moment it works pretty well.

Celtic need to go to the well again – they need to dig deep, the way they did against Barcelona and Shakhtar.

It won’t be easy. By the time they go to Turin we’ll have a good idea of whether they can go through. They have to make sure that after the game at Parkhead they’re still very much in the tie.

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