Cristiano Ronaldo set for ‘another special moment’ when Real Madrid face boyhood club Sporting Lisbon
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo faces an emotional reunion with boyhood club Sporting Lisbon when his side begin their Uefa Champions League defence on Wednesday.
Ronaldo, who scored the decisive penalty in the shootout win over Atletico Madrid in last season’s final, returned to action following a two month injury layoff when he scored the opening goal in the 5-2 thrashing of Osasuna on Saturday.
The Portugal captain netted in 1-0 and 2-1 wins over Sporting while he was with Manchester United but has yet to face them in a Madrid shirt.
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Ronaldo, 31, moved from his family home in Madeira to Sporting’s academy at the age of 12 and spent one season in the first team, scoring five times in 30 appearances in all competitions before joining United in 2003.
“It’s a special match, it’s a special team,” he told www.uefa.com. “To play Sporting again is a privilege for me.
“I wanted to draw Sporting again because I think they have a good team, they have a good coach (Jorge Jesus) and it will be another special moment in my life.”
No team has retained the Champions League title since the competition was revamped in 1992 but Ronaldo said Madrid, who have been champions of Europe a record 11 times, were capable of bucking the trend.
“It’s a great challenge and I think at Real we have a chance to win it again,” he said. “We know it’s a very difficult competition ... but we think positive, that it’s possible to win it again.”
Ronaldo played 65 minutes against Osasuna, his first appearance since injuring his knee in Portugal’s Euro 2016 final win over France in July, and is expected to start against Sporting.
Karim Benzema is likely to return to the starting lineup for the first time this season after struggling with a hip problem but midfielder Isco, defender Fabio Coentrao and goalkeeper Keylor Navas are injured.
Sporting are top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga after winning their fourth consecutive game of the season on Saturday, easing to a 3-0 victory over Moreirense.
Left back Jefferson, nursing a hamstring problem, is their only injury concern.
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Published: September 13, 2016 04:00 AM