Ronaldo backed for successful second Man Utd spell by Bale
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Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes has given the inside track on his free-kick and penalty pedigree after Cristiano Ronaldo’s blockbuster return to the club. All eyes are expected to be on the Portuguese pair when the referee first points to the spot for the Red Devils, with both players accomplished in their own right at either set-piece. It remains to be seen who will be first choice for either.
Having completed international break duties on Tuesday night, Fernandes links up with United’s squad having won three games from three with Portugal.
He notched once in that trio of matches, coming off the bench against Qatar, but it was Ronaldo who stole the headlines over the past two weeks.
In Portugal’s first outing against the Republic of Ireland, he bagged two very late goals to steal the win and the all-time international goals record, with his total now sitting at a dizzying 111.
The former Juventus man is in line to make his second United debut against Newcastle, having trained with his team-mates at Carrington this week.
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Speaking to BBC Sport, Fernandes talked set-pieces: “I really like free-kicks.
“For me personally, free-kicks are something I practice and I want to get the reward of scoring. I prefer free-kicks over penalties.”
On his unorthodox penalty technique in which he hops into the air before striking the ball, he added: “When I was at Sampdoria, there was a coach who came to me and told me to try it because in the past it had worked well.
“I started training like that, and it became the best way to take a penalty.”
Finally, on the arrival of his famed compatriot in Manchester, he said: “What Cristiano has done in football for the last 15 years is something amazing, things that only he or Lionel Messi could reach.”
The signing of Ronaldo must have been bittersweet for Fernandes, who will inevitably have to step aside from his label as the main man at Old Trafford.
When the pair play together for the Portuguese national team, Fernandes struggles to have the same impact – it remains to be seen how this will play out domestically.
United will undoubtedly be less reliant on the attacking midfielder, which could cause his numbers to take a hit, but the team’s success is likely to improve overall.
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Furious debate persists around who will take free-kicks and penalties.
While Ronaldo is a far more accomplished goal-scorer in general, Fernandes has barely put a foot wrong from the spot or set pieces since he stepped through the door.
It would take a brave soul to try and take the ball away from either man, although knocking Fernandes off spot-kicks would hardly be justified unless he makes a mistake.
There may not be long left to wait for United fans to get their answers, as their date with Newcastle is set for Saturday afternoon.
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