Tag Archives: Cristiano Ronaldo

Salah: Champions League final is not me against Ronaldo

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Mohamed Salah claims that the Champions League final against Real Madrid will be a showcase of Liverpool’s collective power and not a personal duel with Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Egypt international will finish his stunning debut season with the Reds with a first Champions League final appearance in Kiev on 26 May, when Jurgen Klopp’s side will seek to end Real’s recent dominance of the competition.

Liverpool reached the Champions League final for the first time since 2007, advancing 7-6 on aggregate despite losing a dramatic second leg to Roma.

On the other hand, Ukraine would be hosts to Ronaldo’s sixth Champions League final, with the tournament’s all-time leading scorer having won the trophy three times with Madrid and once with Manchester United.

Salah, with 43 goals this season, is seen as the biggest threat not only to Real in Kiev but to the dominance of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the Ballon d’Or.

The Liverpool forward insists that he has his eyes on a bigger prize, however: the club’s sixth European Cup.

“I know all of the Arab people wish the best for me, and they are happy every time I win, but now at the moment I am only thinking about the final and to bring the trophy to Anfield,” Salah said after Liverpool’s semi-final over Roma.

“It is not going to be a final between Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo. I am playing for a great club and we have great players, so qualifying to the final came with great teamwork. I cannot do it alone — it is collective work. When we score a goal it’s because we are all doing good, when we concede it means we all need to work harder.”

Last minute Ronaldo penalty sends Real Madrid to semi-finals

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-minute penalty sends defending Real Madrid through to the Champions League semi-finals after his vital goal held off a stunning Juventus comeback (3-1, 4-3 on aggregate).

The Portuguese’s coolly taken 97th-minute spot-kick into the top corner came after Medhi Benatia brought down Lucas Vazquez in the box, meaning that he has now scored 10 Champions League goals against Juventus — the most by one player against a one opponent in the competition.

Juventus captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, in what might be his last Champions League appearance, was sent off for dissent by referee Michael Oliver after the spot-kick.

His first Champions League red card was also Juventus’ sixth in the competition against Real Madrid — more than any team has had against another opponent in the competition.

It was possibly the veteran’s last game in Europe, which drew comparisons with Real boss Zinedine Zidane when his France playing career ended with a sending off at the 2006 World Cup final for a headbutt on Italy defender Marco Materazzi.

Real, Champions League winners in three of the past four seasons, came into the second leg leading 3-0, helped by Ronaldo’s stunning bicycle kick.

However, Serie A leaders got off to a perfect start when Mario Mandzukic headed in from Sami Khedira’s cross after just seventy-six seconds and did it again eight-minutes before half-time.

Already one-goal away from equalling Real’s lead, Blaise Matuidi pounced to capitalise on Keylor Navas’ fumble to level the tie on aggregate before the dramatic ending.

Real Madrid will now join Liverpool, Roma and Bayern Munich in the last-four draw, which takes place in Nyon on Friday.

Zinedine Zidane: “I’m not interested in being favourites”

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Real boss Zinedine Zidane has played down suggestions that his side are favourites to win Europe’s most prestigious club competition again as they host Juventus.

Only a spectacular collapse will deny Real another semi-final appearance following their Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired victory in Italy, where the Portuguese captain scored two goals including an incredible bicycle kick in the first leg.

Twelve-time winners Real are therefore looking to win the competition for the fourth time in five seasons, but Zidane insisted that they could do that without being branded as favourites.

“I’m not interested in talk of favourites, I prefer to show it out on the pitch and we must respect all clubs and all aspects of football,” the former World Cup winner added.

“If we put in a great performance and we are focused throughout the match we have a good chance of battling through, but we must keep that idea in mind.”

Los Blancos will play without suspended captain Sergio Ramos when they host Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final second leg, and defender Jesus Vallejo, 21, could start alongside Raphael Varane for Real.

As for the defending Serie A Champions, they will play without key forward Paulo Dybala, who was sent off in the first leg for two yellow cards, but defender Giorgio Chiellini says that they would put on an improved performance in Spain after their first-leg disappointment.

“We’re not crying about what happened, and we go to Madrid with the desire to play a good game,” Chiellini added. “We’ll treat it like a marathon, not a sprint and we’ll need to go into the game with a level head.”

Prediction:

Real Madrid 0 : 0 Juventus

Barca on steady course to La Liga title after Madrid derby ends in draw

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FC Barcelona is on a steady course to win their 25th La Liga title after the match between their two closest rivals, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick for runaway leaders Barcelona as the Spanish giants equalled the La Liga record of 38 games unbeaten with a 3-1 victory over Leganes. The previous record by was held Real Sociedad, across 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons, a record that Barca could yet break next week at home against Valencia.

Messi began the scoring when he curled home a stunning 30-yard free-kick before latching onto Philippe Coutinho’s through ball to make it 2-0.

Although Leganes winger Nabil el Zhar pulled one back Messi scored once more, this time from Ousmane Dembele’s pass to complete a 45th career hat-trick.

They are also just seven games from an unbeaten La Liga season, and were 12 points above Atletico Madrid for a brief moment.

Although Atletico could have reduced the deficit, the Madrid team were held to a stalemate against their neighbouring rivals Real.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a 10th consecutive match for Real when he volleyed home Gareth Bale’s left-wing cross for his 20th goal in 10 club appearances, but Atletico was able to respond through Antoine Griezmann, who equalised on the rebound after Vitolo’s shot was saved by Keylor Navas.

While it meant that Atletico would be four points above Real, they are eleven behind Barca.

It came as a surprise when Ronaldo was replaced by Karim Benzema for the final 26 minutes, perhaps with Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Juventus in mind.

“We’ve got a lot of games and from time to time he has to rest,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. “He’s clever and there are times when you have to rest. Nowadays he needs it and every time it does him good.”

“I’m happy with the match and how we performed because we clearly deserved more. It was a shame we didn’t get more from it but we could have even lost the game at the end.”