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Real Madrid look to continue revival
Simon Baskett | October 19, 2005 12:56 IST
Real Madrid's recent revival will be put to the test in the Champions League on Wednesday when they host Rosenborg Trondheim without leading striker Ronaldo.
Instrumental in Real's recovery with five goals in their last three league games, Ronaldo suffered an ankle injury in Saturday's 3-0 win over city rivals Atletico Madrid that will sideline him for a month.
He was certainly missed in Real's first two Group F games, while he served out a suspension for being red-carded last season against Juventus.
Real were crushed 3-0 in their opener against Olympique Lyon and it took a late strike from substitute striker Roberto Soldado to earn the nine-times European champions an edgy 2-1 win at home to Olympiakos Piraeus.
But Real, who went top of the Spanish Primera Liga for the first time in 18 months after beating Atletico, are determined to show they are not overly-dependent on the Brazilian.
"It was just a question of time before we started playing better," French midfielder Zinedine Zidane said on Monday. "We played well as a team against Atletico and we are going to keep on improving.
"It is now vital that we win the Rosenborg match," he added. "It's the Champions League and we've already lost a match so we must get the three points at home."
Zidane gave a low-key performance against Atletico, but is still likely to be given the nod ahead of the in-form Guti for the Rosenborg match at the Bernabeu.
Brazilian striker Robinho should step into Ronaldo's shoes, although coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo could also choose Julio Baptista to partner Raul.
With right back Michel Salgado also out injured, Uruguayan international Carlos Diogo will get a rare chance in the starting line-up. A suspension for 27-million euro centre back Sergio Ramos should give Jonathan Woodgate a chance to redeem himself after an ill-starred beginning to his Real career.
Rosenborg, struggling at home this season after winning the Norwegian title 13 times in a row, will draw inspiration from memories of an upset Champions League win over Real in 1997.
On a freezing November night in Trondheim, the Norwegians outplayed Real to win 2-0 after losing the first leg 4-1 in Spain. Real Madrid went on to win the Champions League that season.
With two league games left, Rosenborg have clawed their way away from the danger zone - a 4-1 win over Brann Bergen at the weekend lifting them to eighth in the 14-strong league.
Goalkeeper Espen Johnsen injured his knee before the weekend but should be fit to play.
Rosenborg's surprise 3-1 victory over Olympiakos last month was their first away in the Champions League since 1999. They have not won at home since beating Celtic 2-0 in 2001.
Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 21-Carlos Diogo, 6-Ivan Helguera, 18-Jonathan Woodgate or 22-Francisco Pavon, 3-Roberto Carlos; 23-David Beckham, 12-Pablo Garcia, 5-Zinedine Zidane, 8-Julio Baptista; 7-Raul, 10-Robinho
Rosenborg: 1-Espen Johnsen; 2-Christer Basma, 26-Bjorn Tore Kvarme, 10-Vidar Riseth, 33-Mikael Dorsin; 15-Per Ciljan Skjelbred, 11-Jan Gunnar Solli, 6-Roar Strand; 25-Daniel Braathen, 20-Thorstein Helstad, 9-Frode Johnsen
Referee: Stephen Bennett (England)
UEFA Champions League 2005-06: The Complete Coverage