Real Madrid look to end los­ing streak at Dort­mund

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

DORT­MUND (AFP) —Dis­grun­tled Cris­tiano Ron­aldo could make more Cham­pi­ons League soc­cer his­tory to­day as his Real Madrid side look to end their los­ing streak at high-fly­ing Borus­sia Dort­mund.

A hat-trick for Ron­aldo in Dort­mund, who was left fum­ing af­ter be­ing sub­sti­tuted on Satur­day, would see him be­come the first player to score a cen­tury of Euro­pean goals.

Ahead of the flight to Dort­mund, Real coach Zine­dine Zi­dane subbed Ron­aldo for the fi­nal 20 min­utes of Satur­day’s 2-2 Span­ish league draw at Las Pal­mas.

The Por­tuguese su­per­star was fu­ri­ous with the de­ci­sion, storm­ing off the field with­out ac­knowl­edg­ing Zi­dane.

It did noth­ing to help his mood when Las Pal­mas equalised five min­utes from the end.

Madrid fans have backed Zi­dane over his han­dling of the club’s all-time top scorer with 83 per­cent sup­port­ing his de­ci­sion in a poll car­ried out by Madrid sports daily AS.

Ron­aldo’s free-kick equaliser in Real’s 2-1 come­back win against Sport­ing Lis­bon in their first Group F, the same night Dort­mund won 6-0 at Le­gia War­saw, left him on 97 goals in Euro­pean club com­pe­ti­tion

His main ri­val in the race to 100 goals is Barcelona’s star Lionel Messi, who has 89.

But Borus­sia want to main­tain their un­beaten home record against Real, who have won just four times in 29 away games against Ger­man clubs.

Dort­mund’s Sig­nal Iduna Park sta­dium has par­tic­u­larly bad mem­o­ries for Madrid, who have lost their last three vis­its to the Bun­desliga gi­ants.

Their 2-0 de­feat at Dort­mund in the 2014 quar­ter-fi­nals came a year af­ter their 4-1 thump­ing in the 2013 semi-fi­nals when Robert Le­wandowski scored all four goals for Borus­sia.

They also lost a group stage game 2-1 at Dort­mund in 2012.

Real’s serene run since Zi­dane took charge in Jan­uary has hit a slump in the past week.

The Euro­pean cham­pi­ons dropped points against Vil­lar­real and Las Pal­mas to snap a 16-game win­ning streak in the Span­ish league. Con­fi­dence is high in the Dort­mund camp. Af­ter their shock 1-0 de­feat at newly-pro­moted RB Leipzig a fort­night ago in the Bun­desliga, Dort­mund have net­ted 20 goals in the four games since. They are sec­ond only to Bay­ern Mu­nich in Ger­many’s top flight. As Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang put it af­ter last Tues­day’s 5-1 de­mo­li­tion of Wolfs­burg: “At the mo­ment no one can stop us. At the very most, maybe Bay­ern. “But we can’t be too happy and have to keep work­ing hard.” True to his word, the Gabon striker net­ted his sixth goal in seven games in Fri­day’s 3-1 win at home to Freiburg. Aubameyang was limp­ing af­ter the vic­tory, but is ex­pected to face the Span­ish gi­ants. Ahead of the Real visit, a tough home match was ex­actly the warm-up Dort­mund needed, ac­cord­ing to coach Thomas Tuchel. "”Af­ter the high-scor­ing and cosy easy games, that came at the per­fect point in time,” said Tuchel af­ter the 6-0 de­mo­li­tions of Le­gia and Darm­stadt be­fore a big win at Wolfs­burg. Dort­mund’s main in­jury con­cern is for­mer Barcelona cen­tre-back Marc Bar­tra, who has a groin in­jury. Goetze is ex­pected to part­ner Raphael Guerreiro in Dort­mund’s at­tack­ing mid­field. French teenager Ous­mane Dem­bele and Ger­many’s An­dre Schuer­rle are set to play on the wings to feed crosses into Aubameyang and Co. Ger­many mid­fielder Ju­lian Weigl will play as the lone de­fen­sive mid­fielder in front of the back four. For Madrid, Ron­aldo will start along­side Gareth Bale in the starstud­ded Real at­tack. Karim Ben­zema is ex­pected to beat out Al­varo Mo­rata for the num­ber nine role af­ter com­ing off the bench to score Real’s sec­ond against Las Pal­mas. How­ever, the vis­i­tors will be with­out Brazil­ian duo Marcelo and Casemiro through in­jury. Casemiro’s ab­sence means ex-Bay­ern mid­fielder Toni Kroos will be forced to op­er­ate as the hold­ing mid­fielder on his re­turn to Ger­many. — on­line

Cris­tiano Ron­aldo

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