Ronaldo ready for Nou Camp cauldron

Euro Zone

Cristiano Ronaldo says a season of being public enemy No 1 in England has prepared him for the reception he will receive at the Nou Camp tomorrow night as he returns to Real Madrid's starting line-up to make his clasico debut.

It will not quite be a repeat of the treatment his fellow Portugal international Luis Figo received the first season he returned to Barcelona after signing for Real Madrid – there will be no flying pigs' heads – but it will not be friendly. Ronaldo might not be a traitor but he is the biggest threat Barça have faced since the days of his Brazilian namesake.

"I know that I will be welcomed badly," he said. "That's normal. After the World Cup in 2006 I was received badly in every stadium in England but it didn't stop me ending up as the best player in the league. I don't expect them to applaud me at the Nou Camp. It will not bother me, I am just going there to win the game."

Ronaldo scored seven goals in nine games before an ankle injury interrupted his season and the team collapsed without him. They were unable to beat a third division side over two legs in the Spanish Cup; with him they are a different proposition and Real supporters now believe they can get the victory that will take them clear at the top and go some way to erasing the memory of last season's 6-2 reverse at the Bernabeu.

"What Barcelona did last year does not bother me," Ronaldo added. "I wasn't there then. I am only concerned with what happens this time. I am going into the game with only a victory on my mind.

"We have no fear playing against Barcelona. We will not sit back because that will just be playing into their hands. We will play as we always do but we will have to be careful and have respect."

That mixed message translates as: "We know throwing caution to the wind would be football suicide". And he admitted that Barça were back to their sublime best in beating Internazionale 2-0 in midweek.

There was a puff of the cheeks and a big sigh as he referred to that Champions League master-class, given without Zlatan Ibrahamovic and Lionel Messi. "They were just excellent and that was without two very important players," he said.

Ronaldo might never have played a clasico but he suffered against Barcelona just six months ago in Rome. "This is not a Champions League final," he said. "It is a league game and we will take three points if we win it. There will be nothing gained if we get the victory and then lose our next match."

The result could be the difference between trailing Barça and extending a four-point lead over them and the match reunites Ronaldo with Gerard Pique, the former Manchester United defender.

Pique came out on top in May and is confident the rematch will also finish in his favour. He said: "Madrid can argue that they are a better team with Ronaldo back but I am not interested in those arguments I have complete faith in my team. We play the same way, whoever we play against and we will be ready. He is unpredictable but we know how to stop him, we have done it before.

"We cannot afford to get carried away but we are in better shape mentally after winning so well in midweek."

Dani Alves was also keen to remind Ronaldo of events in Rome in May. "He already knows all too well what it is like to face us when we are on form," Alves said. "They are placing an awful lot on his shoulders but a team is taken from 20 or 22 players not just one."

Xabi Alonso also plays his first clasico following his move from Liverpool in the summer. He has suffered in a disorganised Real side since his switch – he was seen screaming at team-mates to track back last week in the 1-0 win over Racing Santander.

Madrid's work in progress causes him concern ahead of the biggest game of the season. "We will have to play a very complete game," he said. "The key will be getting the right balance between defence and attack. We have to make sure we don't gift them possession and of course we have to take our chances."

That will be where Ronaldo comes in. "We have to play well and score more than them," the winger said. "It's as simple as that. I want to turn over a new page at this club – scoring goals and winning titles."

Spotlight on... Internazionale's European struggles

Samuel Eto'o is now more popular in Barcelona than he was when he played at the Nou Camp, his timid midweek performance for Internazionale against his old side having endeared him to his old supporters.

Eto'o will partner Diego Milito, another Jose Mourinho signing, when Inter entertain Fiorentina tomorrow. Both have scored since arriving at the club but defeats in Europe have led to suggestions that Bordeaux's Laurent Blanc could be brought in next season.

Former Roma and Lazio manager Zdenek Zeman, a regular critic of Mourinho, said: "People expected to see a new and different style but he has signed the wrong players."

Everybody's talking about... Mario Balotelli

The Italian league has fined Juventus €20,000 (£18,150) for abuse directed at Internazionale forward Mario Balotelli during a match in which the Italy Under-21 international was not even playing. Balotelli, whose parents are Ghanaian, was playing for Inter at Bologna last weekend – a game in which he was racially abused by Bologna fans – but that did not stop Juventus supporters chanting what the league authorities called "insulting songs that incited violence against the player" during their match with Udinese. However, the League decided against closing Juventus's ground in Turin and as a consequence the Stadio Olimpico will host the visit of Inter, and Balotelli, next weekend.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game