Rio, along with Scholes and Giggs, is the only survivor of the team that was well beaten 3-1 back in 2003 and although United won the return leg 4-3, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side crashed out of the competition.
Rio recalled the game in Madrid, telling UEFA’s official magazine:
“The away game – they really played us off the park if I’m honest.”
That night a young Ferdinand was given a torrid time by Raul, a man he rates as one of the best players he ever faced:
“Raúl was just difficult to get up against.
“He played off [the front] and asked you the question: ‘Do you want to come in here and mark me? If you come in here someone else will run in the space that you leave or I’ll just get it, turn and play it in the space that you leave.’
“In terms of making you think, he definitely was the most intelligent player I’ve played against.”
The return leg saw a masterclass from Ronaldo, as the Brazilian hit a hat trick and Ferdinand is hoping his name sake doesn’t follow suit. Ferdinand admits the friendship has been put on hold for the moment:
“We’ve had a few texts, but when you get into a situation like this when you’re coming up against a friend, all the texts and the conversations go to one side and you don’t really speak until you actually get the game over and done with.”
In terms of stopping the ex United man, Ferdinand jokingly added:
“You get as many people around the ball when he’s got it as possible!”