Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has reflected on Real Madrid-Manchester United meetings past and present, and on his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 39-year-old spent 11 seasons playing for United, during which time he lifted the European Cup in 1999.
With his old side facing Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League Last 16 clash this Wednesday, the Molde Coach sat down with Marca to assess their chances.
“I do not see a clear favourite. They are two fantastic teams that have great players and each a great history behind them,” reflected the former forward, who scored 91 goals for United.
“They are two teams led by two Coaches who are greatly respected. Cristiano will be playing against United for the first time since leaving them.
“For the first time in my life I am not sure what will happen. I want Manchester United to win, of course. I would like a 4-3, with three goals from Cristiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid.
“The two Coaches know each other well and are very familiar with their opponents. I think the tie will be decided by a phenomenal play by someone like Robin van Persie.
“The two teams are very evenly matched, I hope that United get lucky. It will be similar to 2008, when Manchester United played against Barcelona. After a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou, Paul Scholes scored with a long range shot. And individual performance that decided the tie.”
Solskjaer’s final years at Old Trafford coincided with Cristiano Ronaldo’s first few in England.
“Yeah he is a fantastic guy. I played with him for several years when he came to United at only 17.
“I saw him grow into a man, take responsibility and know how to behave in a dressing room. He is a great guy.
“Of course he is the best player in the world. If I could sign one player now it would be Cristiano Ronaldo. I have no doubt. Yes, I know about Messi. He’s a fantastic player, four Ballon d’Ors. But if I had to sign a player then it would be Cristiano.”
The Norwegian was asked of his memories in facing Madrid as a player in the past.
“The last time I played against them we lost 3-1 away, I spent the whole game on the bench. I played the whole game at home in the return leg when we won 4-3, with three goals from [the Brazilian] Ronaldo.
“I think it is one of the best games I’ve played against a very strong opponent. I had two or three chances, Casillas made some very good saves, it was a good match for me if not a great one.
“I gave an assist to Van Nistelrooy and created problems for Roberto Carlos. I’m proud of my performance. But what can you do when playing against Zidane and Ronaldo? Ronaldo was unbelievable.
“He was the first visiting player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford and get cheered off by our fans. That is respect.”