Cristiano Ronaldo is on the brink of making history for Real Madrid and Malmo could well be the team to help the Portuguese striker set a new goal scoring record.
Ronaldo is just two-goals behind Madrid legend Raul’s all-time scoring record of 323 for Real – and one short of 500 career goals – and the Swedish champions could suffer the same fate as Shaktar Donetsk in Wednesday’s Group A clash.
However, Madrid have not reached the same heights since Ronaldo hit a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Donetsk – and the number 7 hasn’t scored in any of the three games since.
Blancos draw blank
Los Blancos boss Rafael Benitez had expressed hopes that the Malmo match would see the return of several sidelined superstars but Real have travelled to Malmo minus many injured Galacticos including Gareth Bale (calf), James Rodriguez (thigh), Pepe (muscle), Danilo (knee) and Sergio Ramos (shoulder).
Ronaldo, Isco, Karim Benzema and fit again Jese Rodriguez are all the squad for Malmo and Benitez may have one eye on Sunday’s Madrid derby against Atletico and giving the other big names a rest before the crunch game.
Madrid were held 0-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu by Malaga on Saturday – the first scoreless game at the stadium in 95 games over almost four years, and the first in 56 since Real failed to score at home.
‘These things happen’
“These things happen in football,” said Benitez after watching his team hit 31 shots but still draw a blank.
“Fans want to see the team win, but they also want to see them create chances and battle,” said Benitez. “We need to keep working, create chances and be more accurate. We are talking about the fact that the big teams have to play two games per week and maintain a very high intensity and that is not always easy.
“The game [against Malaga] was about having possession and we put out a quality team to do that. In terms of fitness the team looked good and it was not easy.
“I think that the numbers, 31 shots on goal, and the chances, should be enough to get a goal at least, if not more. Creating clearer chances against a side that really sit back is not easy.”
Malmo made for Ronaldo?
Malmo might employ exactly those tactics to try and preserve their proud unbeaten record at home that stretches back to May. PSG beat them 2-0 in their Group A opener and three domestic defeats in the Allsvenskan make their chances of three league titles in a row increasingly unlikely.
Their previous outings in the Champions League don’t hold much confidence for online football bettors either, given Malmo – European Cup runners-up in 1979 – have finished bottom of the group in the two other times they have been in the competition.
They are clear underdogs in the group and Ronaldo will be licking his lips at the prospect of breaking hitting his 500th goal and perhaps drawing level with Raul.
By: Joe Cahal