Cristiano Ronaldo is all set to face his childhood club, Sporting Lisbon as Real Madrid is set to take on the Portuguese club in the first game of their Champions League group stage giving underway to their title defence for the biggest tournament in Europe. Pitted against each other in Group F with Dortmund and Legia being the other teams, these two sides will meet on Wednesday on the first game week of the tournament at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.
Sporting and Cristiano:
Ronaldo, who started his football career in Sporting will definitely be geared up on the idea of playing against his former club and leave a mark on the game as well as the Portuguese fans on the club.
“It’s a special match, it’s a special team. I wanted to draw Sporting again because I think they have a good team, they have a good coach, and it will be another special moment in my life. I’ve played against Sporting before in the Champions League, against Benfica too, and against Porto. To play Sporting again is a privilege for me.”
Ronaldo scored five goals in 31 appearances during his stint in Sporting before being roped in by Sir Alex Ferguson to play for Manchester United which proved to be the biggest breakthrough in his career.
Sporting Lisbon president Bruno de Carvalho has expressed his desire for the Real Madrid star to end his playing career with the Portuguese club. De Carvalho said that it was a mistake for Sporting to sell Ronaldo when they did and recalls the time of Ronaldo’s breakthrough in August 2003.
“He represents a lot for us and it would be beautiful if he could end his career here. He is a world ambassador. He always speaks well about us and how fond he is of us.It’s going to be special to come up against him just as it’s going to be special for him, as was seen in Ronaldo’s face when he found out in the draw that he would face us. He will play a great game against us and we will, of course have to try to limit him. We are playing against our boy and he is playing against the team where he formed himself as a player. It’s going to be beautiful.”
-Bruno de Carvalho, President, Sporting Lisbon
The Portuguese has come off a brilliant season this year with both Champions League and Euro Cup titles in his bag and is the number one contender for the World player of the Year award which will be presented in January. His Real Madrid side has been enjoying one of their best spells in recent years, being crowned European Champions twice in three years and will definitely be geared up to try and become the first club ever to retain the Champions League title.
Real Madrid and Sporting are facing each other in the group stages of the Champions League for the second time after 2000/01. Both teams drew in Lisbon (2-2) before Real won 4-0 at home.
With Madrid sitting comfortably on top of the La Liga table for now, the European Champions will have a comparatively easier task on their hands with Sporting compared to the comparatively more difficult fixtures which await them in the later stages of the tournament. A quite surprising fact regarding the team is the form of the defenders going forward with all of the back four including Marcelo, Danilo, Pepe and Ramos having atleast one goal in the campaign so far. This speaks a lot about their dominance as an attacking side in the highest level of the game and proided they carry the same form into the earlier stages of the tournament, the title defence doesn’t seem that impossible at all. With almost all of their regular players fit, Madrid are looking to start strong in Zinedine Zidane’s first full season as manager. Ronaldo, who was suffering from an injury since the Euro Cup final in France is slated to play the full 90 minutes against his boyhood club. Real Madrid have failed to score only once in their last 44 Champions League group games is looking far from suffering from the same feat with the kind of form they are in. Spanish midfielder Isco will miss out on the game owing to an ankle injury.
Sporting Lisbon are top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga after winning all four of their opening league fixtures. The 18-time Portuguese champions have never beaten a Spanish club on Spanish soil but will look to make an attemot to change that this year although the chances, on paper, seem quite slim. Under Manager Jorge Jesus, Sporting will have a very difficult draw on their hands with the task of cutting out the force of a Rampant Real-Madrid attacking force. Cristiano Ronaldo will come to face quite a number of his Euro team-mates in the likes of Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio and defensive midfielder William Carvalho to name a few. Lazar Markovic who is in sporting on loan and Adrien Silva will be among the managers trusted picks to feature against Los Blancos in Game week 1 of the Champions league at the Bernebau.
Probable Starting Lineups:
Kiko Casilla;Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Casemiro; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Sporting Lisbon: (4-4-2)
Rui Patricio; Coates, João Pereira, Schelotto, Zeegelaar; Carvalho, Silva, Semedo, Bruno César; Markovic, Gelson Martins
Match timings: Thursday, 15 September, 12:15 AM ( 20:45 local time)
Match venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Match Referee: Paolo Tagliavento
Real Madrid vs Sporting Lisbon : TV Guide
The Champions league fixture will be telecasted on the Ten Sports Network in India.
For live streaming of the Real Madrid vs Sporting Lisbon clash, click on the link here.
Real Madrid vs Sporting Lisbon Match Predictions:
There is no question regarding the outcome of the match considering the huge amount of fire power in the Madrid side. Our prediction is a 4-0 win for Los Blancos with Ronaldo scoring a brace against his former club and Bale scoring the rest of the two goals.
The action is just starting as the biggest tournament in the footballing world kicks off soon.
Stay tuned for more updates.