Real look to continue revival without Ronaldo
Real Madrid's recent revival will be put to
the test in the Champions League on Wednesday when they host Rosenborg
Trondheim without leading striker Ronaldo.
Instrumental in Real's recovery with five goals in their last three
league games, Ronaldo suffered an ankle injury in Saturday's 3-0 win
over city rivals Atletico Madrid that will sideline him for a month.
He was certainly missed in Real's first two Group F games, while he
served out a suspension for being red-carded last season against
Real were crushed 3-0 in their opener against Olympique Lyon and it took
a late strike from substitute striker Roberto Soldado to earn the
nine-times European champions an edgy 2-1 win at home to Olympiakos
But Real, who went top of the Primera Liga for the first time in 18
months after beating Atletico, are determined to show they are not
overly-dependent on the Brazilian.
"It was just a question of time before we started playing better,"
French midfielder Zinedine Zidane said on Monday. "We played well as a
team against Atletico and we are going to keep on improving.
"It is now vital that we win the Rosenborg match," he added. "It's the
Champions League and we've already lost a match so we must get the three
points at home."
Zidane gave a low-key performance against Atletico, but is still likely
to be given the nod ahead of the in-form Guti for the Rosenborg match at
Brazilian striker Robinho should step into Ronaldo's shoes, although
coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo could also choose Julio Baptista to partner
With right back Michel Salgado also out injured, Uruguayan international
Carlos Diogo will get a rare chance in the starting line-up. A
suspension for 27-million euro centre back Sergio Ramos should give
Jonathan Woodgate a chance to redeem himself after an ill-starred
beginning to his Real career.
Rosenborg, struggling at home this season after winning the Norwegian
title 13 times in a row, will draw inspiration from memories of an upset
Champions League win over Real in 1997.
On a freezing November night in Trondheim, the Norwegians outplayed Real
to win 2-0 after losing the first leg 4-1 in Spain. Real Madrid went on
to win the Champions League that season.
With two league games left, Rosenborg have clawed their way away from
the danger zone - a 4-1 win over Brann Bergen at the weekend lifting
them to eighth in the 14-strong league.
Goalkeeper Espen Johnsen injured his knee before the weekend but should
be fit to play.
Rosenborg's surprise 3-1 victory over Olympiakos last month was their
first away in the Champions League since 1999. They have not won at home
since beating Celtic 2-0 in 2001.