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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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.

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?