No rest for Rampant Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's most marketable football player. Photograph: AP.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's most marketable football player. Photograph: AP.

Madrid - World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted he has no intentions of slowing down after firing 12 goals in his first eight appearances this season.

Ronaldo followed up his hat-trick in a 8-2 rout of Deportivo la Coruna last weekend by scoring four times in a match for the third time in his Madrid career as the European champions continued their return to form with a 5-1 thrashing of Elche in midweek.

Real also received a boost as Barcelona dropped points for the first time this season against Malaga to cut their lead over Madrid to just four points.

And with a tricky trip away to Villarreal this weekend on the horizon, Ronaldo says he will not be resting as coach Carlo Ancelotti rotates his squad.

"We are at the start of the season and I want to play to gain confidence and rhythm," said Ronaldo.

"When the right games come I will rest and rotate, but now isn't the right moment. I want to be continue to be better."

Ronaldo's goalscoring record so far this season is all the more remarkable as he took a three-week break at the beginning of the campaign to ease knee and hamstring injuries.

Ancelotti said in midweek that break had been key to his sensational return to form, but, worryingly for Real's rivals, Ronaldo believes he can still improve physically after suffering from tendonitis in his left knee towards the end of last season.

"I feel good and without any pain. I am still improving and I have a little way to go so I want to continue like this.

"I can still be better physically. I trained really hard during the break after not having a good pre-season, but now I feel confident and without pain."

Ancelotti also confirmed after the win over Elche that Karim Benzema and Luka Modric would return to the side for the trip to El Madrigal with Isco and Asier Illarramendi set to drop to the bench.

However, the Italian's biggest decision is who to play in goal after handing a debut to Keylor Navas in midweek after starting captain Iker Casillas for Real's first eight games of the season.

Barcelona appear to have an easier task on paper as they return home to the Camp Nou to face Granada after back-to-back away fixtures.

Luis Enrique's men stretched their run of clean sheets to six games this season in a turgid 0-0 draw at Malaga, but failed to manage a single shot on target during the 90 minutes.

Enrique is likely to make a number of changes ahead of Tuesday's trip to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and Lionel Messi could even be rested as the Argentine is the only Barca player to have started every game so far this season.

Barcelona were knocked off the top of table on Thursday on goals scored after Valencia defeated Cordoba 3-0.

The game of the weekend comes at the Vicente Calderon as champions Atletico Madrid host Sevilla who are third on 13 points, the same as Valencia ans Barcelona.

Atletico got back to winning ways in midweek with a hard-fought 1-0 win away to Almeria, but needed their sixth goal out of seven they have scored in the league so far this season from a set-piece to do so as centre-back Miranda headed home his third goal of the season.

Sevilla are likely to prove an even tougher test, though, as they moved onto 13 points after five games thanks to their fourth consecutive victory at home to Real Sociedad in midweek.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Elche v Celta Vigo (19:00)

Saturday

Villarreal v Real Madrid (14:00), Barcelona v Granada (16:00), Atletico Madrid v Sevilla (18:00), Athletic Bilbao v Eibar (20:00), Levante v Rayo Vallecano (20:00)

Sunday

Getafe v Malaga (10:00), Deportivo la Coruna v Almeria (15:00), Real Sociedad v Valencia (17:00), Cordoba v Espanyol (19:00)

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