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Ronaldo ‘dreaming’ of Lisbon final

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REUTERS

Portugal's soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo walks wearing a new pair of soccer boots during its presentation event in Madrid. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Madrid - Cristiano Ronaldo believes Real Madrid will see off titleholders Bayern Munich to reach their first Champions League final in 12 years when the sides meet for the second leg of their semi-final on Tuesday.

Ronaldo is even more desperate to make the final for the first time as a Madrid player as European football's major showpiece will be held in his homeland Portugal at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on May 24.

“We have been in four consecutive semi-finals and I think this year is the time we can reach the final and then we have to think of something even greater,” the World Player of the Year said at the launch of Nike's new Mercurial Superfly boot on Friday.

“It would be a dream to play a final in Lisbon in front of the Portuguese public.

“It is a great stadium, but we have a final first on Tuesday. We are dreaming of being in Lisbon and I think we are going to do it.”

Madrid hold a precious 1-0 advantage from the first leg in the Spanish capital on Wednesday when Ronaldo made his return to action after two weeks out due to a hamstring injury.

He completed 70 minutes before being replaced by Gareth Bale.

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed on Friday that Ronaldo will start Madrid's La Liga clash with Osasuna this weekend to help regain his match sharpness.

“For two weeks I had to stop doing what I love best, which is playing football and being on the pitch.

“I had the chance to recover more quickly than planned and in the match against Bayern I was very happy because everything went well.

“We are going to have a similar game in Munich as at home. We know Bayern are an excellent team, but we have a little advantage.

“We know it will be even more dangerous and difficult away from home, but we have our weapons and we will try and score.”

There will be even more pressure on Ronaldo's shoulders come the summer as he leads Portugal's challenge at the World Cup.

A stunning hat-trick against Sweden that secured his country's place in the finals in Brazil last November played a big part in Ronaldo finally dethroning Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d'Or in January.

And he said he welcomes the responsibility of not being surrounded by a team of superstars when he leaves Madrid to represent his country.

“I like big challenges. Too much pressure is obviously not a good thing, but I like to live with pressure. When I don't feel any pressure is when I will give up playing.

“I have to fight in the games, train hard and, especially in the national team, lead by example because I am captain. I am also the one with the most caps, but I like it because everyone in the national team has a very good relationship.

“As I have said before, we are not favourites at the World Cup.

“We will try to enjoy it. For me we have the strongest group in the World Cup. We have a difficult game against Germany to start and then we will see how we get on against Ghana and the USA. Hopefully we can get to the knockout stages.”

Sapa-AFP


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