Ronaldo doubtful as Real eye Champions League last 16

2013-11-26 08:42

Madrid – Real Madrid will almost certainly be without Cristiano Ronaldo as they look to mathematically seal their place in the Champions League last 16 at home to Galatasaray tomorrow.

The Spanish giants are virtually already in the knockout stage as they would need to lose their remaining two games, heavily having beaten Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen 6-1 and 4-0 respectively on matchday one and two.

However, they can also guarantee first place in Group B with just a point against the Turkish champions.

Ronaldo is unlikely to be risked as he suffered a minor thigh injury in Madrid’s 5-0 destruction of Almeria on Saturday.

The Portuguese had given the visitors the lead in that game to continue his sensational scoring form of late that has seen him net 32 times for club and country already this season.

Despite Ronaldo’s withdrawal just after half-time with the score 1-0, Real shrugged off his departure to fire in four more goals in the final half hour with Gareth Bale among the goalscorers.

That was the Welshman’s fourth goal in five games as he begins to find his feet in the Spanish capital after his move from Tottenham Hotspur in September.

Bale’s return to form has coincided with Madrid’s best spell under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti as they have racked up 20 goals in their last four league games.

However, with Los Blancos still trailing Barcelona by six points in La Liga, many believe their best chance of a major trophy could come in the Champions League.

Madrid have fallen short at the semi-final stage in each of the last three years as they desperately go in search of their 10th European crown, and Ancelotti admits becoming the man to end their 14-year wait for the Champions League is a motivating factor.

“The 10th European Cup is not an obsession, but a motivation,” he told The Times.

“For the club it’s very important. The last time Real Madrid played in the final was 2002. For a club like Real Madrid this is not good.”

Twenty-year-old rising star Jese Rodriguez is expected to get his chance in Ronaldo’s absence, with Bale possibly moving over to the left rather than on the right side of Madrid’s attack where he has prospered in recent weeks.

Galatasaray, meanwhile, travel to Madrid hoping to take a huge step towards joining Real in the last 16.

Roberto Mancini’s men are currently tied with FC Copenhagen in second place on four points, one ahead of Italian champions Juventus.

And the former Manchester City manager is desperate to set up a showdown for second place against his compatriots from Serie A in what is sure to be fiery atmosphere in Istanbul in two weeks time.

“I am confident. I think we need to improve as a team, but I hope we can get a good result in the next game,” he told Uefa.com.

“Probably we will play for everything in the last game against Juventus, but in football you never say never.”

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