Cristiano Ronaldo is set to become the all-time Champions League appearance record holder as Manchester United face Villarreal.
The Portuguese icon equalled former Real Madrid and Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ tally a fornight ago after making his 177th appearance in Europe’s elite competition against Young Boys.
But Ronaldo is now set to move out on his own when he takes to the field at Old Trafford as he adds another record to his collection.
Despite scoring against Young Boys, Ronaldo will hope he can celebrate the feat in better circumstances after a last-gasp goal saw him suffer defeat in his first Champions League appearance for United since May 2009.
Ronaldo has started in all three of United’s Premier League games since making his sensational return to the club as well as their Champions League opener, scoring four goals.
In his pre-match press conference, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backed Ronaldo to mark the occasion in typical scoring style.
He said: “Of course Cristiano, you can almost say when he starts it is one guaranteed goal. He has that record and he will score goals.
“It is not going to be easy for us, but it is not going to be easy [for Villarreal] to play against Cristiano.
“He has 13 goals in 15 against Villarreal [for Madrid] which means he enjoys playing against them.”
The former Madrid forward is the Champions League’s record goalscorer having found the net 135 times. Fifteen of those goals were scored during his first spell with United from 2003 to 2009, with the rest coming across subsequent stints with Madrid and Juve.
He has lifted the trophy five times, once with United and on four occasions with Madrid.
His last home appearance in the Champions League for United came in April 2009 — a 1-0 semi-final first leg victory over Arsenal before his side lost to Barcelona in the final.
Ronaldo’s gap between Champions League appearances is the fourth-longest for the same club, behind Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Ajax, 2006-18, 12y 189d), Timmy Simons (Club Brugge, 2003-16, 12y 280d) and Steed Malbranque (Lyon, 2001-15, 14y 194d).
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