After the glut of goals that greeted the return of the UEFA Champions League this week, there could be worse to come for members of Europe's defenders' union with the news that Ronaldo is fit and ready to play.
Real Madrid CF coach Vicente del Bosque has announced the Brazilian striker is on the verge of making his first appearance for the club he joined from Internazionale FC this summer, quite possibly as a substitute against Group C rivals KRC Genk in the Santiago Bernabéu next Wednesday.
'We can count on Ronaldo'
"From Sunday we can count on Ronaldo," said Del Bosque, who will also hope Zinedine Zidane and Claude Makelele can shrug off the injuries that will sideline them against Club Atlético Osasuna on Sunday. The Brazilian - whose No11 shirt has already shifted 70,000 replicas - was on target for Madrid's senior side in a practice match against the youth team yesterday.
Should the Brazilian miss out against Genk, he should feature the following weekend against Real Valladolid. And if he can reproduce his FIFA World Cup form, Champions League watchers will expect further goal feasts to match Matchday 1, which yielded 50 goals from 16 games - at an average of over three a game.
Ronaldo is not the only forward aiming to get back to action. French international striker David Trezeguet hopes to take his place in the Juventus FC squad for next Tuesday's visit of FC Dynamo Kyiv in Group E after scoring four times in 45 minutes in his comeback appearance against friendly opponents Cavanese last night.
"My knee is OK and it's always good to score goals," he said. "I know it was just a friendly but four goals are a boost for my morale." Last season's 24-goal leading scorer in Serie A, Trezeguet had been sidelined since early August with a knee injury.
Cissé told to rest
Two other French forwards are less fortunate. A foot injury kept Djibril Cissé out of Tuesday's goalless draw with PSV Eindhoven, and AJ Auxerre will again be missing the striker for the visit to BV Borussia Dortmund after he was told to take a fortnight's complete rest. His fellow French international Sydney Govou, meanwhile, faces ten days on the sidelines after pulling a thigh muscle and so will sit out Olympique Lyonnais' Group D meeting with Rosenborg BK.
Arsenal FC coach Arsène Wenger's midfield options should increase in the next seven days with the return to training of Dutch international midfield player Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who has been out of action since February with a knee injury. Another Dutchman on his way back is Feyenoord's teenage striker Robin van Persie, who is training again with the club's senior squad after a reported fall-out with coach Bert van Marwijk. "I'm glad to have been given a second chance," said the 18-year-old.
There will be no immediate return for FC Barcelona's Dutch winger Marc Overmars, however, after he suffered a setback in his attempted recovery from muscle problems in his right leg. Nor for PSV goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus who tore a hamstring in training before Tuesday's draw with Auxerre and must now be doubtful for Wednesday's home match with Arsenal. FC Bayern München's Bixente Lizarazu, meanwhile, will be absent until mid-October with the knee problem that ruled him out against RC Deportivo La Coruña.
For all the fireworks of the Champions League's opening Matchday, the absence of Ronaldo and company suggests there is more, and even better to come. Just consider this lineup of luminaries who sat out Tuesday and Wednesday's action:
Lobont (AFC Ajax), Brown (Manchester United FC), Jorge Andrade (Deportivo), Roque Junior (Milan AC), Lizarazu (Bayern), Rosický (Dortmund), Titov (FC Spartak Moskva), Keane (Man Utd), Pires (Arsenal), Totti (AS Roma), Ronaldo (Madrid).
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