Monday, 23 February 2009

Kill or be killed, warns Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has warned his Manchester United team-mates to "kill or be killed" when the holders resume the defence of their Champions League crown on Tuesday.

United travel to the San Siro for a tough-looking assignment against the runaway Serie A leaders Internazionale on the back of a scruffy 2-1 win over Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League by seven points.

But domestic duties pale into insignificance alongside this mouth-watering first knockout round clash in Europe elite's club competition.

The games takes on extra spice because of Inter manager Jose Mourinho's recent assertion that his striker, Swedish man mountain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is a better player than recently-crowned World Player of the Year Ronaldo.

The pair, of course, have history.

Mourinho once implied his countryman was uneducated and branded him a "liar", while a riposte from Ronaldo suggested the former Stamford Bridge boss "never recognises when he is wrong".

Mourinho has also managed to rattle Sir Alex Ferguson, most famously when in 2004 he ran down the touchline at Old Trafford to celebrate the goal that eliminated the current World Club champions from the Champions League when he was in charge of Porto.

Ferguson has insisted Mourinho is "my old friend" but it is fair to suggest no current manager polarises opinion quite like the Nerazzuri boss - not even the great Scot himself.

Inter are nine points clear at the top of Serie A, they have reached the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia and have already won the Supercoppa Italiana, Italy's version of the Community Shield - a run of form not lost on Ronaldo.

He said: "They're a team we need to respect," he said. "They're a good side and first in Serie A so we need to be very careful."

Mourinho suffered only one defeat at the hands of Ferguson in 10 games while he was Chelsea manager and the Old Trafford boss has spoken of the need for United to "control" Inter when the two sides meet at the San Siro.

They will have to so without the suspended Nemanja Vidic for what, on paper at least, has the look of a classic.

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