When it comes to judging the centre-forwards of Manchester United and Real Madrid, there’s one man who’s something of an authority on the subject: Ruud van Nistelrooy. 

The Dutch striker scored 95 goals in 150 appearances for Manchester United between 2001 and 2006, before moving to the Bernabeu where he netted a further 46 times in 68 games.

In an Interview with Spanish paper Marca, Van Nistelrooy said he believes this week's Champions League tie between United and Madrid will be a close run affair settled by the finest of margins; and could come down to the two men that have taken up his former role at the respective clubs.

"For me the difference will be the form of Cristiano and Van Persie. I think that one of these two players will make the difference," he said.

There’s not much to choose between the two strikers either, with Van Persie netting 19 league goals in 26 appearances so far in his first season at Old Trafford, whilst Ronaldo has scored 24 times in 22 league games for Jose Mourinho’s side.

On the teams, Van Nistelrooy added: "Both teams are doing very well.  

"I think the tie will be decided by the smallest details. I think they (Madrid) have more quality on the pitch. But United win and win every week. They trail 2-0 and fight back, they go 1-0 up and control the game.

"United are very much a team. They defend all together and then play for Van Persie and Rooney.

"Madrid, due to injuries, have not been able to create such a solid group and be able to repeat the same team every week.

"It will be a very interesting game."

Whilst Van Nistelrooy stopped short of predicting a winner, the 36-year-old frontman hinted that Sir Alex Ferguson's side are most likely to progress to the next round.

"United don't need many chances to score," he said. "Give one to Van Persie and Rooney and it's going in. They don't miss. And the problem is that they always create something. They are a lethal pair."

If both teams perform to their potential then it may well come down to whoever makes the most of their chances and the two strikers could have the ultimate say. One things for sure though, its going to be a cracker.


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