Real look to iconic Por­tuguese to take them a step closer to La Liga ti­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -

IN-FORM striker Cris­tiano Ron­aldo will try to take Real Madrid to the brink of the Span­ish ti­tle against Celta Vigo to­day.

Madrid would move three points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga with a vic­tory in Gali­cia ahead of the sea­son fi­nale on Sun­day.

The match at Balai­dos was orig­i­nally sched­uled for Fe­bru­ary but had to be post­poned af­ter strong winds dam­aged the sta­dium. The only force of na­ture Celta Vigo need to worry about now is Ron­aldo, who is driv­ing Real to­wards a po­ten­tial league and Cham­pi­ons League dou­ble.

“More than the goal it­self, it’s what he’s done so far. In the de­ci­sive mo­ments, Cris­tiano is al­ways there,” Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane told re­porters on Sun­day when asked about the Por­tuguese for­ward. “He’s just got some­thing, he’s dif­fer­ent.”

Ron­aldo struck twice as Madrid beat Sevilla at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu, reach­ing 401 goals for the club in all com­pe­ti­tions since he signed for them in 2009 from Manch­ester United.

This sea­son the 32-year-old has 22 strikes in the top flight and hit hat-tricks in the re­cent Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter-fi­nal against Bay­ern Mu­nich and semi­fi­nal against ri­vals Atletico Madrid.

Thanks to Zi­dane’s con­stant ro­ta­tion and a new role as a cen­tre-for­ward, Ron­aldo seems fully fit as the sea­son reaches its de­ci­sive stages.

“We’re in good phys­i­cal shape and are fo­cused,” added Zi­dane. “We are giv­ing our ab­so­lute all in ev­ery game, ev­ery move, giv­ing ev­ery­thing.”

Gareth Bale is still out injured, how­ever, along with Pepe and Dani Car­va­jal. But Real will be con­fi­dent of beat­ing a Celta Vigo side in 13th with noth­ing to play for this sea­son af­ter be­ing elim­i­nated from the Europa League by Manch­ester United in last Thursday’s semi-fi­nal sec­ond leg.

Zi­dane warned his team they have to be at their best, how­ever, if they are to lift their first league tro­phy since 2012, deny­ing Barcelona their third con­sec­u­tive vic­tory.

The coach said: “Ev­ery day we’re closer, but it’s more com­pli­cated.

“Any­thing can hap­pen, but we al­ways think pos­i­tively and we’ll give ev­ery­thing un­til the end.”

Vic­tory against Celta would move Real to 90 points and mean they just have to avoid de­feat against Malaga on Sun­day, the fi­nal day of the sea­son, to hold off Barcelona and win the ti­tle. Reuters

More than the goal it­self, it’s what he’s done so far. In the de­ci­sive mo­ments, Cris­tiano is al­ways there.


Real Madrid coach

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