Valencia coach Gary Neville says he has “great memories” of Cristiano Ronaldo but he is now working on a way to stop his ex-Manchester United teammate in Sunday’s La Liga game at home to Real Madrid.
Neville and Ronaldo played together through the Portuguese’s six seasons at Old Trafford, often lining up together down the right-side of the United team, and winning three Premier League trophies as well as the 2008 Champions League.
Ahead of their reunion in Sunday’s high profile La Liga fixture at Mestalla, the former England defender told his pregame news conference that he was well aware of Ronaldo’s strengths and as a coach his job was now to prepare a plan to nullify them.
“[Ronaldo] is an ex-teammate of mine, we played together for a lot of years in Manchester,” Neville said. “I have great memories of those years, and so does he I imagine. It’s different now — I have to see how we stop him, along with the rest of the Real Madrid team.
“I’m thinking about it in a pragmatic way, looking at how we stop his strengths. He’s obviously an excellent player. Over last four or five years I have spoken a lot about Cristiano, have great respect for him, but my perspective is about what we can do to prevent Madrid’s strengths, and what we can do ourselves.”
Neville coming up against his former colleague is just one subplot of the high profile fixture at Mestalla — with former Valencia coach Rafa Benitez returning to the club where he won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup during his three seasons in charge over a decade ago.
Benitez’s future is also on the line according to widespread reports in Spain, however Neville said there would be no sympathy from the Valencia players once the game starts.
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