Ronaldo: Real peaking at the perfect moment

Eurozone

Cristiano Ronaldo believes Real Madrid have timed their form and fitness perfectly to be in prime condition for the biggest four games of their season, starting tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu, against Barcelona.

After missing three weeks with a thigh strain, Ronaldo made a scoring return last week in the league against Athletic Bilbao and then pounced for his 40th goal of the season at White Hart Lane in midweek.

The former Manchester United forward said: "I'm happy that we play them four times – you want these big games as often as possible. We are peaking at just the right time of the season. We have fresh players coming back and the squad is ready for this."

The match sees Ronaldo try to break his duck against Barcelona after three matches for Manchester United and three for Real Madrid without scoring.

The contest also gives Lionel Messi a tenth opportunity to score against a Jose Mourinho defence – he has played nine matches against Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid while Mourinho has been in charge, and never got his name on the scoresheet.

The two players top this season's scoring charts in Spain and both Ronaldo, with 28 goals, and Messi, with 29, have the opportunity to break the all-time goal record for one season of 38 currently held by Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra and Real Madrid's Hugo Sanchez.

"They are both exceptional players," said Real director-general Jorge Valdano. "They are both something out of the ordinary, but I think that we have more as a team when Ronaldo is not playing than Barcelona do when they are without Messi."

For coach Mourinho it will be his 50th game in charge at Madrid tonight, and it is his most important yet. Real trail Barcelona by eight points and must win if they are to maintain any hope of winning the league with eight games left.

Defeat would be the club's worst-ever run against its greatest rival. Barcelona have won the last five clasicos all under Pep Guardiola. Madrid and Barcelona are playing for all three titles in just 18 days and Ronaldo believes it is unthinkable that he goes another season without a trophy after last year's failure.

He said: "I can't even think about Real Madrid going two or three years winning nothing. This is one of the biggest clubs – if not the biggest – in the world. We won nothing last year but we have to achieve something this year and the next. We have a fantastic coach and a fantastic team."

As well as bringing together two of the top four sides in Europe, the run of four games pits together the two richest clubs in the world. Real Madrid have topped Deloitte's Football Money League for the last six years with revenues of €439m (£390m). Barcelona come in second with €398m (£355m), ahead of Manchester United in third with €350m (£310m). Where the two Spanish sides differ is in money spent on assembling their squads. Deloitte have Barça's mainly home-grown squad costing €175m (£155m) compared with Madrid's €475m (£420m) roster.

Mourinho, meanwhile, caused a press walkout last night by first refusing to give the traditional pre-match press conference, and then by sitting through it without saying a word. Spanish journalists complained at his refusal to attend, then when told he would attend but not speak they walked out, leaving non-Spanish journalists to question his No 2, Aitor Karanka, while Mourinho sat tight-lipped alongside.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering