Real Madrid will visit Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Cristiano Ronaldo again attempting to become the Spanish giants’ all-time leading scorer in all competitions. Ronaldo remains on 321 goals, two short of Raul’s record, after going three matches without a goal.
The Real Madrid side as a whole have struggled to find the net in that time, and on Saturday were held to a goalless result at home to Malaga to leave them sitting third in La Liga. But manager Rafael Benitez claims to have no doubts that the Ballon d’Or winner for the last two years will quickly be back among the goals, and believes it is down to others to lend more of a helping hand.
“I see him the way I see the team, creating chances,” he said, reports Spanish sports daily AS. “He’s going to score goals, I know he will, he’s a goals guarantee, I’m completely calm about that.
“The final pass was missing and were anxious, snatching at things in the last five minutes. Our decision-making wasn’t sharp. What we have to do is instill confidence in the team, there’s no other way. Benzema has set an objective, with Cristiano you don’t have to do that. But we have to raise the numbers of Isco, Jesé , and the other players in the second line, and not depend so much on Cristiano or Benzema.”
Real Madrid did make a convincing start to their attempts to land an 11th European Cup, when beating Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 two weeks ago, helped by a Ronaldo hat-trick. And with a crunch meeting with local rivals Atlético Madrid upcoming on Sunday, Benitez could well elect to rotate his side at the Swedbank Stadion.
Gareth Bale, James Rodríguez, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Jesé Rodríguez are all sidelined due to injury. But the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Casemiro and Lucas Vázquez are in contention for a spot in the starting lineup.
The match will be Real Madrid’s first ever visit to Sweden. And they will be encountering a club that reached the final of the old European Cup in 1979, but are playing in the Champions League group stage for the first time. Known more in recent years for being the club that produced Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Malmo have won the Swedish championship for the past two seasons, and came through three qualifying rounds in order to join Europe’s elite in the group stage.
Their campaign began with a 2-0 defeat to Ibrahimovic’s current club, Paris Saint-Germain, two weeks ago. And coach Åge Hareide has admitted that his side’s hopes of a positive result on Wednesday depend on Real Madrid being off their game.
“A draw would be a very good result for us,” he said, according to Uefa.com. “But our best chance is if Madrid maybe think the three points are already theirs and they play a couple of percent off their best. Maybe the crowd will help too; they are used to big crowds but here the fans are so close. For us, it is important not to be too passive. If we start passively, it is difficult to turn that around.”
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Deportes