Raul accuses Ronaldo of selfish pre-match comments

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid returned to training yesterday after Tuesday's defeat to Arsenal and there was little sign of the togetherness that will be needed if they are to overturn the 1-0 scoreline from the first leg. Raul, the club captain, accused his Brazilian team-mate Ronaldo of destroying preparations for the match with selfish and ill-timed comments.

In a bizarre pre-match outburst Ronaldo said that he may leave Madrid in the summer if the attitude of the fans towards him did not improve.

Raul said: "It wasn't the ideal time to say those things. I am not going to stand in judgement over the way he says he feels about the fans because they are his feelings. But having one player thinking about himself instead of about the team disturbed what should have been the magic of a Champions' League match.

"We need a better Ronaldo. The fans do get behind him when he performs well. They are an expectant crowd but they expect a lot of every player in every game, not just him. The team can and will try to help him feel better but he needs to keep his side of the bargain and score the goals."

Ronaldo did not train properly yesterday, complaining of a muscle strain and is now a doubt for Sunday's trip to Mallorca. It is difficult to know what would be worse for Madrid - his unsettling presence in the squad or his absence through injury.

Real's unbalanced squad is not well equipped for losing its only natural striker. During his recent absence Real played the youth team striker Roberto Soldado in Ronaldo's place or moved midfielder Julio Baptista further forward. Neither was satisfactory.

Despite the in-fighting, Raul was positive about the second leg. "We have made it difficult for ourselves but we can't throw in the towel," he said. "The team didn't perform as was expected and Arsenal took advantage. We are not sunk yet. There is still a lot of pride here and we are determined to go to London and give a heroic performance."

He also paid tribute to Arsenal's young Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas. "Cesc carries the Arsenal side," he said. "He was in the last Spain squad get-together and has a real chance of making the World Cup."

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