"A Russian team could win the UEFA Champions League," said Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid CF prepare to host PFC CSKA Moskva. "But not this year, because we want to win it."
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Cristiano Ronaldo is well aware that the odds are in Real Madrid CF's favour as they host PFC CSKA Moskva, with the scores level at 1-1 following the Russian leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
Once more in stunning goalscoring form – he has hit 32 in the league for his club this season – he will no doubt be a threat against the Army Men, having registered in the first leg. He has the greatest respect for Leonid Slutski's men, yet said of the decider. "Anything is possible. A Russian team could win the UEFA Champions League, but not this year, because we want to win it."
If there was a hint of tongue in cheek about that answer, then Ronaldo's assessment of their upcoming opponents was deadly serious. "Russian teams are always strong and difficult to beat," he said, keen not to think too far ahead as his side look to confirm their place in Friday's draw for the closing rounds. "We must think in the present. The result of the first leg is dangerous for us."
José Mourinho's side lead FC Barcelona by ten points at the top of the Spanish table, and Ronaldo dismissed suggestions that the Portuguese coach be moving on in the summer. "He will stay with us," said the 27-year-old. "I am doing well but my team are doing better, and that's more important," added the Portugal star, exhorting Madrid's fans to get behind them with the words: "We will only win something if we are together."
Ronaldo scored a record 40 league goals last season, and has reached 40 in all competitions this term. A dazzling total, but remarkably ten fewer than Lionel Messi has managed for Barcelona, though only 30 of those have come in the league. Ronaldo and Messi look for all the world like they are in a two-way tussle to be the greatest player of their age.
Ronaldo saw Messi score five times in Barcelona's demolition of Bayer 04 Leverkusen last week, but it was not something that the Madrid man lost sleep over. "I don't care what other players do," he said. "I care about myself and my team, not goals. We are doing well. I'm happy for Messi and for football. I don't know if I could score five goals in a match. Maybe I could."