Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has praised the returning Cristiano Ronaldo, but added that the Real Madrid side they held to a draw last week were formidable even without him.
When the first leg of the Champions League semi-final between City and Real failed to deliver the expected fireworks many blamed the absence of Los Blancos’ star player Ronaldo.
The Portugal international missed several matches due to an injury sustained in a La Liga clash against Villarreal, including the first leg of this particular tie.
Speaking in a pre-match press conference, Pellegrini commented on the significance of the return of the competition’s top scorer, saying that while the 29-year-old is a great player, the Spanish giants aren’t overly reliant on him.
“Cristiano will always be a different player – he scores a lot of goals and has throughout his six years here,” the Chilean said.
“However, I don’t think Real are just Cristiano Ronaldo. We must work as a team defending and attacking. Not just against Ronaldo but against Real Madrid.”
Ronaldo’s form this season has been remarkable. He has scored 11 goals in his last seven Champions League outings, including a hat-trick in the second leg of their quarter-final against Wolfsburg.
“Our motivation must be to reach a final which we’ve never done before against a great team in a beautiful stadium,” Pellegrini added.
“It’s important tomorrow because it’s high pressure but we have the personality and the football to beat them.”