Ronaldo set to start for Real Madrid

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid will welcome back Christiano Ronaldo for his first home game in over two months, but are likely to be without their other talisman, Kaka, for the La Liga visit of mid-table Almeria on Saturday.

Ronaldo returned to full group training for the first time on Thursday after making his comeback in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Barcelona. He came through his first match in two months unscathed and is likely to feature tomorrow. In the same game, Kaka aggravated a groin strain that has forced him to train apart from the rest of the squad, Real's website reports. The Brazilian is a major doubt for both Saturday's clash and the Champions League tie in Marseille on Tuesday, where a draw will see Real go through to the knockout stages as group winners.

"He has been playing through the pain. He has had a groin problem and this perhaps explains his inconsistent performances," The director of sports at Real, Miguel Pardeza, told Radio Marca. "In my day it nearly always required an operation but now there are other types of treatments which are much better, and I am sure he will be back with us again very soon."

Kaka's misfortune comes at an inopportune time for coach Manuel Pellegrini, who will be looking to capitalise on Real's positive show against leaders Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday. Despite losing 1-0, there is a renewed feeling of hope in the capital, with many believing that the team have turned a corner. Madrid were unlucky not to score themselves after creating a host of chances and their play exhibited a vigour and precision that has been lacking in recent seasons.

A win for Real on Saturday will close the gap on league leaders Barca to two points, the Catalans having played a game more after the the midweek defeat of Xerez.

Visitors Almeria will be bolstered by the return of left-winger Albert Crusat and young centre back Chico, both first team-regulars who have been missing recently through injury. Although struggling in the lower reaches of La Liga this season, Almeria will be keen to recall their heroics of February 2008 when, in their first season in the top flight, they beat Real 2-0. "Winning will be very difficult but not impossible" said coach Hugo Sanchez in a club press conference on Thursday, adding that his team will go to the Bernabeu "to enjoy and try to surprise."

John McManus is the winner of our bwin blogger competition and will be writing for The Independent from a number of events across Europe over the coming weeks.