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Buoyant Madrid target top spot

Having seen Real Madrid CF assume leadership of the Liga on Saturday, Manuel Pellegrini has now turned his focus on claiming first position in Group C as Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to return against FC Zürich.

Buoyant Madrid target top spot
Buoyant Madrid target top spot ©

While the focus in the build up to Real Madrid CF's UEFA Champions League Group C tie with FC Zürich centred on the imminent return from injury of Cristiano Ronaldo, Merengues' coach Manuel Pellegrini pointed out that there is the more pressing matter of qualification to consider. Madrid are level on points with AC Milan at the top of the section and would advance with a home win if the Rossoneri defeat Olympique de Marseille, though Zürich coach Bernard Challandes is hoping to spring another surprise after his side won at San Siro on Matchday 2.

Manuel Pellegrini, Madrid coach
Cristiano Ronaldo has been doing well in training. He's made the squad and we'll see what he can do tomorrow. It's impossible not to miss a player with his quality, but even without him we are top of the Liga. No team can depend on just one player. Guti has the flu and though I don't think it's too serious it's one for the medical staff. First place in the group is very important but not decisive. I would prefer to play the second leg in the last 16 at home, but that doesn't guarantee you a place in the next round. Lass [Diarra], Van Nistelrooy, Albiol and Sergio Ramos are back so I have a few choices this week.

Bernard Challandes, Zürich coach
Ronaldo is a very good player. He played very well in Zürich, but Real Madrid have a lot of good players and it won't be better for us if he can't play. We know how good they are. We can't compare this with our league, where we are not playing well. We are in the Santiago Bernabéu, a legendary stadium, and this is something completely different. We don't come here every year and this is a great opportunity for us. I'm not afraid. We are realistic and we will try to get a good result. Maybe we can spring a surprise.

Weekend results
21/11/09 Madrid 1-0 Real Racing Club Santander
(Higuaín 22)

• Madrid's win moved them to the Liga summit, a point ahead of FC Barcelona.

• Starting for only the fifth time in the league this term, Gonzalo Higuaín responded with his fifth Liga strike.

20/11/09 FC Basel 18934-2 Zürich (Swiss Cup last 16)
(Stocker 17, Frei 54 58, Streller 76; Djurić 32, Alphonse 90+2)

• Alexandre Alphonse struck his third goal in four games but it was mere consolation as Zürich's Swiss Cup ambitions were ended in the last 16 at St. Jakob-Park.

• Zürich's league position of eighth after 16 matches is their lowest since 2003/04 when they were bottom of the ten-team division but recovered to finish fourth.

Team news
Out: Guti (flu)
Doubtful: Cristiano Ronaldo (ankle)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: Marcelo

• Ronaldo aggravated an ankle injury during Portugal's 3-0 defeat of Hungary last month. After several weeks in the gym, he stepped up his recovery on 16 November with light jogging and ball work and is expected to be among the substitutes against Zürich.

Out: Johan Vonlanthen (thigh) Yassine Chikhaoui (knee) Eric Hassli (shinbone fracture)
Doubtful: Philippe Koch (ankle, knee)
Suspended: Onyekachi Okonkwo
Misses next match if booked: Xavier Margairaz, Florian Stahel

• Madrid, 5-2 victors in Switzerland on Matchday 1, went some way to redressing the balance of their home defeat by AC Milan on Matchday 3 with a 1-1 draw at San Siro in their last outing to leave the two pool heavyweights tied on seven points.

• Zürich are bottom on three points after losing for the second successive game against Olympique de Marseille, this time 6-1.

Did you know?
If Madrid progress to the knockout rounds it will maintain their record of advancing beyond the group stage in all of their 14 campaigns, seven of them as group winners.

For more information on the match in the official press kit, click here.