Fresh from completing Real Madrid CF's quarter-final defeat of Tottenham Hotspur FC with the only goal at White Hart Lane, Cristiano Ronaldo predicted a spectacle to savour as he looked ahead to the Merengues locking horns with arch-rivals FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
Ronaldo's 50th-minute effort – a long-range strike fumbled into his own net by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes – sealed a 5-0 aggregate triumph for a Madrid side who will also be tackling Barcelona in the Liga on Saturday, ahead of their Copa del Rey final showdown next Wednesday.
"It will be fantastic," said Ronaldo of the UEFA Champions League double-header with Josep Guardiola's men on 27 April and 3 May. Madrid lost 5-0 to the Azulgrana in November, but Ronaldo played down talk of revenge. "I don't like the word revenge – it will be interesting not just for us players but for the supporters and everyone who loves football. It will be interesting because at the moment we are the two best teams.
"The games will be very, very difficult. We are going to play against one of the best teams in the world, which is Barcelona," continued the Portuguese international, who does not consider the Liga leaders invincible. "We have to think it is possible because they are not from another world – they play football like the very best teams, but we are also strong."
Indeed, Madrid remain unbeaten in Europe this term and Ronaldo briefly allowed himself to dream of a Wembley reunion with his old club Manchester United FC in the final on 28 May. "Of course I would be very happy if I played against Manchester because I played there for six years, but let's see what happens. The final is a long way away."
One factor that could play in Madrid's favour against Barcelona is their defensive resilience on the European stage this season. José Mourinho's charges have now kept eight clean sheets in ten outings, and they succeeded in frustrating Tottenham on Wednesday night. "I expected that Spurs in the first 15 to 20 minutes would come out very determined, but it was not so bad for us," explained Ronaldo. "We expected pressure, but they didn't [create] it – we kept the ball."
Ronaldo's goal eventually secured their eighth win in this season's competition and midfielder Xabi Alonso added: "It was more or less the game that we were expecting. They were going to start really hard and get the crowd behind them; we knew we had to control them and calm the pace of the game. It was an intense first half. They did really well, but we've had good control in defence and haven't been conceding goals. In the second half, we knew we would have chances and, as soon as Cristiano scored the goal, it was job done."
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