Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ronaldo to return for Real's Switzerland trip

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to return when Real Madrid open their Champions League campaign at FC Zurich on Tuesday night.
The Portugal winger started on the bench in Saturday's 3-0 Primera Division win at Espanyol but came on to score Madrid's second in an impressive team display.
Ronaldo will spearhead Madrid's bid to better their recent record in the competition with their last five appearances all ending at the last 16 stage. And with the final scheduled for Madrid's Bernabeu home, not to mention the club's unprecedented summer spending spree, there is added pressure on the players to succeed this season.
Esteban Granero, who also scored at the weekend, is confident, however, that the players can make it to the final in the Spanish capital next May.
"This team has the desire to do important things and all of us would like to get to the final, play and win, because it will be played in our stadium," Granero said.
The midfielder, who spent the previous two years at Getafe before returning to Madrid this summer with the club exercising a buy-back option, has impressed in the first couple of weeks in the Primera Division and is hoping to hold down a regular place in Manuel Pellegrini's star-studded team.
"I want to be important to the team, if I am that means more minutes on the field. That's my goal, to be a starter,'' Granero added in Spanish newspaper AS. "I am very comfortable with Kaka and the others, we connect well on the field. The coach has asked me to do what I know and told me how to improve.''
Granero is included in the squad for the trip to Switzerland alongside Pepe and Fernando Gago but there is no place for France midfielder Lassana Diarra, Rafael van der Vaart or Ezequiel Garay. Sergio Ramos is still not 100% fit and will remain in Madrid.
Zurich coach Bernard Challandes accepts his side will have to "defend, defend and defend again'' tomorrow night.
The Swiss champions have been placed in an extremely difficult group alongside not only Madrid but also previous tournament winners AC Milan and Marseille. Challandes admits he has found it hard to concentrate on domestic matters with such glamorous European ties on the horizon.
"It is constantly in my head and I find myself concentrating on this game rather than the next league game," he told Uefa's official website. "I try not to do it, but the Madrid match will take more than three days of preparation - we are talking Real Madrid here. We have to play to our strengths and not sacrifice our own football, but at the same time we know we'll need to adapt.
"We must be brave, even if that carries a risk. We might concede five goals, but as long as we try and aren't just there to make up the numbers. Real have world-class players like (Karim) Benzema, Ronaldo and Raul to hurt us. We need to defend, defend and defend again.''

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