Real will prevail – Ronaldo


Portugal star confident team will beat Barca to title

MADRID: With five games left and Real Madrid standing one point behind leaders Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo is sure that he will finish his first season in Spain with a championship medal.The Portuguese forward, signed from Manchester United last summer, has been overshadowed in recent weeks by the sparkling form of Barca’s Leo Messi, but he feels that it will be Real who will come out on top in the fight for the title.

The outlook is certainly rosier than it was a week ago for Real following their victory over Valencia and Barca’s draw against local rivals Espanyol.

“We are in a much better position now and in football, with just one point the difference, it means that anything is possible,” said Ronaldo.

“We have to fight until the end and all the players at Real Madrid must think that it is possible to win the league.

“I am confident that we will win our five remaining games and I am confident that we are going to win the league.”

This weekend Real face a Real Zaragoza side who are fighting for their survival, just two points above the relegation zone after failing to win in their last three games.

“The motivation will be at a maximum to try and win this game. We know what the errors are that we have been making and we can correct them,” said Zaragoza striker Javier Arizmendi.

Barcelona must put to one side their Champions League preoccupations to concentrate on the league. They play Xerez today with attacking midfielder Andres Iniesta the only absentee through injury.

While Barca are already examining ways to turn around a 3-1 deficit when they meet Inter Milan in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final next week, they cannot afford to ease up domestically.

“Each game left for us now is like a final. Madrid are going to make it difficult for us and I am sure they are not going to drop points, so we have to be focused on the game against Xerez,” said goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Valencia hope to put in an improved showing against Deportivo la Coruna following their poor performance against Real last weekend, which president Manuel Llorente slammed as being “fearful and lacking ambition”.

Real Mallorca coach Gregorio Manzano, meanwhile, has described his fourth-placed side’s clash with Malaga as the most important game of the season as they battle it out with Sevilla, who take on Getafe, for the final Champions League qualifying spot.

The hunt for a top-six finish and a place in the Europa League is also tense, with sixth-placed Villarreal the candidate currently showing the best form.   They travel to Racing Santander, while Athletic Bilbao, level with Villarreal on points, are away at Osasuna.   At the other end of the table the arrival of Javier Clemente as coach at Real Valladolid has given them renewed hope that they can survive as they are now unbeaten in three games and have conceded just one goal.

They are still four points from safety, though, and face a Sporting Gijon side who are looking to reach the 40 points that their coach Manolo Preciado believes they need in order to ensure their own safety.

Back-to-back wins for Tenerife have improved their chances of survival and they play mid-table Atletico Madrid, who have nothing left to play for in the league amid their ongoing Europa League campaign. — AFP