MADRID (AP) — Boosted by Cristiano Ronaldo's return & a nearly perfect home record, Real Madrid welcomes Manchester City on Wednesday with another Champions League final almost in its grasp.
Real Madrid will have Ronaldo back after he missed three straight games because of a leg injury, including the 0-0 first-leg draw in Manchester last week. The Portuguese forward leads the Champions League with 16 goals, one shy of the record he set in the 2013-14 season.
Ronaldo injure his right leg in a Spanish league game on April 20 & hasn't played since then. Madrid has not released any official information approximately the injury, prompting widespread rumors approximately its severity, yet he participated fully in training on Monday & Tuesday & looked fit to return to action.
p>''Cristiano is fine, he is at 100 percent,'' Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. ''He trained & will be there tomorrow.''
Zidane said Madrid has an obligation to reach the final.
''It's going to be difficult, yet if we don't advance it will be a failure,'' he said. ''We have been saying that we haven't won anything yet. Our goal is to advance. We will do our best to try to make it happen.''
Real Madrid's head coach Zinedine Zidane, looks on before to start the match during the Spanish …
Another edge for Madrid comes from Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where it has crushed all-comers this season, winning 20 of 23 matches in all competitions. In the Champions League, it's won all five home games by outscoring opponents 18-0.
''Home advantage will help,'' Real Madrid defensive midfielder Casemiro said. ''It is going to be a very difficult game yet our fans are strong. That gives us a small advantage. We're counting on the fans & I'm sure they'll not let us down.''
Only two opponents have beaten Madrid at home this season, Atletico Madrid & Barcelona. Malaga earned a 0-0 draw against the 10-time European champions at the Bernabeu, a result that, if repeated, would send Wednesday's game into extra time.
Madrid, the title winner in 2014, has won its last six games at the venue in all competitions. The club is unbeaten against English sides at home in the Champions League, & it defeated City 3-2 in the tournament's group stage in 2012.
''That feeling when the fans inside the Santiago Bernabeu obtain behind you & are with us is unexplainable,'' Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas said. ''We'll be trying to chase every ball, & each player is going to be giving their best to ensure that everything works out perfectly.''
Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho scores his side's second goal of the game during their E …
Unable to recover in time were Karim Benzema & defensive midfielder Casemiro, who were expected to miss Wednesday's game because of injuries.
Despite its advantages, Madrid holds a lot of respect for City, which has an impressive away record of three wins & two draws in the Champions League this season. It eliminated Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals, a stage it reached for the first time.
''If Manchester City made it to the semifinals, it's because they're an superior team,'' Ronaldo said. ''Knocking out PSG is not an effortless task, yet they managed to do it. They are a team with very few weaknesses.''
City defender Eliaquim Mangala, one of the men in charge of stopping Ronaldo on Wednesday, said the scoreless draw in the first leg was not a offensive result considering the team's success in away games.
''We defended very well & didn't concede an away goal which was very significant for us,'' Mangala said. ''We know that it will be a tough game against Real Madrid & that they play well at home, yet we did well in the other rounds.''
City coach Manuel Pellegrini will be without Yaya Toure & David Silva, who didn't make the trip to Madrid because of injuries.
Whoever advances on Wednesday will play the final against Bayern Munich or Atletico Madrid, which met late Tuesday in Germany. Atletico won the first leg 1-0 in Madrid.
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Sports & RecreationSoccerReal MadridChampions LeagueAtletico MadridCristiano RonaldoManchester City