Sporting CP’s Champions League visit to Real Madrid could be an emotional occasion for Cristiano Ronaldo but head coach Zinedine Zidane has no doubt his star forward will be focused on the task at hand.
Ronaldo came through the celebrated youth system at Sporting to begin his stellar career and the Portuguese side are first up in Madrid’s defence of their Champions League title at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
“Of course, it’s a very special occasion for Ronaldo,” Zidane told a news conference ahead of the Group F clash.
“He came up through the ranks at Sporting. It will be something extra special for him but he’s very professional and when he plays he gives his best.
“Whenever he plays, when that game gets underway he is going to give 100 per cent. It will be the same Ronaldo as always.”
Whether that amounts to a fully match-fit Ronaldo is a matter for debate.
He played 66 minutes on a goalscoring return from a knee injury against Osasuna on Saturday and Zidane is aware he will have to temper his star man’s enthusiasm over the coming weeks.
“He’s ready, he wants to play. We will see how long he can play for.
“We’ll see if he can play those full 90 minutes. During the course of the game, anything can happen.
“He’s been out for 60 days, that’s a very long time for a footballer. He is ready, which is good, but I talk to Ronaldo about other things – not about the minutes he is going to play.
“If you ask him, he will want to play 90 minutes.”
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