Mourinho: world is waiting for Man Utd v Real Madrid
Portuguese coach watches Man United in action after Ronaldo fires warning hat-trick
THE BUILD-UP to Wednesday night's clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid is already underway. A day after Cristiano Ronaldo sent a warning to his old club by scoring a fantastic hat-trick for the Spanish side, Madrid manager Jose Mourinho swanned into Old Trafford to watch United play Everton announcing that the Champions League showdown was "the match the world is waiting for".
The two teams meet in Madrid this week and the stakes are high for the Portuguese manager and his Madrid team.
"With Real trailing Barcelona by 16 points in the Spanish league, winning a tenth European Cup has assumed critical importance for the club and Mourinho, amid intense speculation that he could leave at the end of the season," explained The Times.
Then there is Mourinho's rivalry, and friendship, with Alex Ferguson and the fact that the Madrid manager has been tipped to replace the veteran Scot at Old Trafford when his reign finally comes to an end.
Writing in The Observer, Andy Hunter said the two men were "unlikely" friends but had certain things in common. "They may employ different methods, Mourinho the arch-strategist against Ferguson the risk-taker, but they share the same goals. Both of them this season are chasing a third Champions League winners' medal," he noted.
Mourinho's standing at Old Trafford is such that he met with Ferguson before the game against Everton and was interviewed on MUTV.
The Portuguese said he was "proud" of the "fantastic relationship" he had with Ferguson and looked forward to their latest clash. "We have had so many matches between us which started with Porto. We had some with Chelsea, Inter and now Real. Some I had won, some I have lost, others I have drawn."
The game will also see Cristiano Ronaldo take on his old club for the first time since he quit United in 2009. He warmed up for the meeting with a hat-trick against Seville on Sunday.
It was "a performance to send a shudder through Old Trafford, yet actually only a routinely brilliant one by his ridiculous standards", said the Daily Telegraph.
And in a season of turmoil at the Bernabeu, with Mourinho rumoured to be leaving, Ronaldo has established himself as "the one constant, vibrant symbol of Madrid's hope and glory".