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Ronaldo ready to return

ESPN staff
December 3, 2013 « Broad and KP 'did not breach curfew' on late night out | Chartbeat test »
Bale hit a hattrick in Ronaldo's absense

Cristiano Ronaldo says he is ready to return to action for Real Madrid, having fully overcome the injury issues which have seen him miss his side's last two games.

Ronaldo has not played since limping out of Madrid's 5-0 win at Almeria with a thigh complaint, and is suspended for Saturday's Copa del Rey last 32 first-leg game at third tier Olimpic de Xativa. He should now return either the following Tuesday against Copenhagen in the Champions League, or at Osasuna in La Liga on December 14.

The Portuguese attacker, speaking as he picked up his second consecutive Alfredo di Stefano La Liga player of the year award (the paper's, not the official one) at Marca's offices in Madrid told the paper that he was over his recent fitness problems.

"I have no injury," Ronaldo said. "I am good, I have been recovered for a few days now. I did not play in the last game so as not to force things, but I will be there for the next game."

Before the injury Ronaldo had been in red hot form, with 25 goals in 18 games for his club this season, while also guiding Portugal to next summer's World Cup with four goals across the two legged playoff victory over Sweden.

"This could be the best start to a season of my career," he said. "But I believe that in recent years I have been at a very high level."

Even without their attacking leader Carlo Ancelotti's team have been flying, beating Galatasaray 4-1 in the Champions League last Wednesday, and then rolling 4-0 past Real Valladolid on Saturday in La Liga in no small thanks to a Gareth Bale hat-trick.

"Madrid look very strong to me, we are improving, getting better bit by bit," Ronaldo said. "We are in good form. I want to help the team, so that we are strong at the end of the season when trophies are won.

"We are strong, confident, and we want to keep going like this. The formula for success is to work, to be focused at training and during games. To work hard always."

Barcelona's 1-0 defeat on Sunday at Athletic Bilbao means Madrid have closed to just three points behind the league-leaders.

Ronaldo said he was sure his side would now go and win the title, although Atletico [currently second, level on points with Barca] were also contenders.

"I am convinced that Madrid will win the trophy, but I see Atletico as a very strong team," he said. "I am not too surprised, since last year I have seen them as very strong. They are a very organised side, with a great coach and a very good goalkeeper. They will fight for La Liga, they are a candidate. We will see what happens at the end."

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