|Robert Lewandowski during a practice session,
in Brackel, on Monday. (AFP)
Dortmund: Real Madrid top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo’s participation against Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg is still in doubt, with the player nursing a knee problem, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday.
Italian Ancelotti rested the Champions League top scorer for Saturday’s 4-0 La Liga win at Real Sociedad, but said he was ruled fit to play as the Spaniards arrived in Germany with a 3-0 advantage from the first leg last week.
“Cristiano always wants to play and I want him to play. But he is a professional and he knows when he cannot,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“He is having treatment and yesterday he trained at a reduced intensity. If he is 100 per cent he will play, and if not he won’t. We have never taken risks with him or any other player.”
Ronaldo took part in the final training session in Dortmund but broke off before the end. The Portugal captain, who has a record-equalling 14 goals this season in Europe’s elite club competition, has complained of discomfort in his left knee.
Ronaldo made his 100th Champions League appearance in the first leg at the Bernabeu, and his goal matched Lionel Messi’s single-season record set in 2011-12.
Real ideally would need the Portuguese’s attacking skills to counter Dortmund, who will go out looking for an early goal that could boost their chances of turning things around.
The Germans will have their top scorer Robert Lewandowski back in the team, following a suspension in the first leg. “With Lewandowski returning, this is a different game,” Ancelotti said. “His presence lifts his fellow players. We will have to keep the balance between attacking and defending, but we are best at attacking and we should show that.”
Lewandowski had scored four goals against Real in the semi-final last season, as Dortmund advanced to the final only to lose to Bayern Munich. “Dortmund will want to go out and score a goal in the first 15 or 20 minutes,” defender Daniel Carvajal said.
“They will put a lot of pressure on us, and we have to be ready for it. Why should we not try to score in that phase?” said the fullback.
Real have a slight doubt over the fitness of record signing Gareth Bale, after he sustained a small gash to his right knee in Saturday’s win in San Sebastian.
The Wales winger, who scored with a brilliant long-range strike to make it 20, needed a couple of stitches in the wound, local media reported.
Ancelotti did not sound too concerned at his post-match press conference. “This victory strengthens us and we also avoided injuries and were good physically,” the Italian said. “We played very well, intelligently. We started at a very high pace and had more intensity in the second half.
“Everyone had a good game and I’m pleased because it wasn’t easy. I’m very proud to manage this team. I have players who like to fight and we’re going to fight until the last match.”
It is this fighting spirit this season that has turned things around between the Germans and the Spaniards after Dortmund ousted Real at the semi-final stage last season.
Dortmund, however, boosted their own confidence with a 21 comeback win over VFL Wolfsburg on Saturday, that tightened their hold on second place in the Bunsdesliga and took pressure off the team as they chase an automatic Champions League spot for next season.
“This win was very good for us,” said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp. “Had we lost we would have had to surrender to the murderous pressure. It was important to win and go into Tuesday’s game with a good feeling. We will not give anything away for free. We want to have two good halves on Tuesday and then we can see what comes out of it.”
Klopp will have top-scorer Robert Lewandowski back for the game after the Poland international sat out the first leg with a suspension.
Lewandowski was on target in the win over Wolfsburg and his firepower will be crucial on Tuesday if the Germans are to have any chance of progressing.
Dortmund came from a goal behind and scored twice in the second half to win against Wolfsburg with Marco Reus, who scored the winner, saying a performance like that against Real was what was needed. “We still have a minimal chance. To score four goals again would be crazy, but we play at home and we are always dangerous at home,” Lewandowski said.