Why Manchester City fans should welcome Ronaldo with open arms
With football fans being football fans, former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to get an awful lot of hostility from the Etihad crowd, who will have gathered on Wednesday evening hoping their team avoid another bumbling, dismal performance in the Champions League.
However, while the Man City supporters will feel that yelling abuse at the Real Madrid man for 90 minutes would be up there with a night out at the Hacienda in terms of entertainment stakes (LLL hasn't been to Manchester since 1989) it wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt really be a good idea, especially if they want their team to maintain their slim hopes Champions League progression. Rather than greeting Ronaldo with insults and bile, a standing ovation or even a nice cup of tea and a tasty biscuit would be the most productive offering.
One of RonaldoÃ¢ÂÂs many strengths - along with his lovely race horse thighs and evil stare when his free-kicks balloon over the bar - is that the forward genuinely plays better when thereÃ¢ÂÂs thousands of eye-popping, fist-shaking loons on his back for the entire match. RonaldoÃ¢ÂÂs most impressive league performances last season, for example, were at the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n and in the Camp Nou - two grounds where the supporters hate not just his guts, but the bacteria and enzymes dwelling within them, too.
In the Santiago Bernabeu, Ronaldo can seem a little underwhelmed, although that still doesnÃ¢ÂÂt stop the Portuguese scoring lots of goals. The Madrid man has already knocked in five in this seasonÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League and Marca see the 27-year-old making a return to Manchester as the key factor in the clash. Ã¢ÂÂGod Save Ronaldo,Ã¢ÂÂ declares the paperÃ¢ÂÂs preview.
Despite LLLÃ¢ÂÂs warnings to the Man City fans, the paper expects a Galatasaray-style inferno. Ã¢ÂÂThe reception will be hostile,Ã¢ÂÂ pants WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs edition, while calling for a big game from a player with a double mission against Man City. Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂll make the Madrid fans happy and also UnitedaÃ¢ÂÂs, who will see their great city rival out of the Champions League at the group stages for yet another year.Ã¢ÂÂ
AS are looking at Mourinho to pull out a big one, noting that the Champions League games have not been that hot so far this season. Late goals against City and Dortmund in the Santiago Bernabeu gave Madrid four more points that they side may well have had in an alternate universe. Ã¢ÂÂTodayÃ¢ÂÂs the day,Ã¢ÂÂ declares WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs editorial.
While Madrid have gone on their travels with the passage to the knock-out stages still covered in clutter, MÃÂ¡laga have two matches in which they can take a collective chill pill, with just a point needed to secure top spot. Although thereÃ¢ÂÂs a chance to win the group in Wednesday's jaunt to Zenit St Petersburg, it's more likely they will adopt a modest approach, with Javier Saviola and JoaquÃÂn being left behind, no doubt in preparation for the weekendÃ¢ÂÂs Primera visit of Valencia. That fixture is perhaps more important, given their recent domestic slump, a blip Manuel Pellegrini attributed to Ã¢ÂÂa mixture of fatigue and injuriesÃ¢ÂÂ.
Spartak Moscow manager, Unai Emery, did what he normally does against Barcelona in TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs early clash. And thatÃ¢ÂÂs fail to beat them. The 3-0 defeat - with two more goals from Leo Messi - was his 15th attempt to get one over the Catalan club. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs a continuation of the style Guardiola had,Ã¢ÂÂ sighed Unai Emery on TitoÃ¢ÂÂs team, after what was described wearily as Ã¢ÂÂa deserved loss.Ã¢ÂÂ
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a big hooray for Valencia who got a 1-1 draw in Mestalla against Bayern Munich despite being down to 10 men for 60 minutes after an utterly ludicrous challenge from Antonio BarragÃÂ¡n made things tricky for the home side. The former Liverpool defender, who was on the receiving end of red card from Howard Webb, later apologised for his moment of madness via Twitter. Ã¢ÂÂProud of the team and Mestalla, incredible match from my teammates. IÃ¢ÂÂm so sorry about my sending off.Ã¢ÂÂ
The point puts Valencia through to the next round, leaving little old Real Madrid bringing up the rear and hoping for big games from their Portuguese pair against Manchester City in Ã¢ÂÂthe infernoÃ¢ÂÂ of El Etihad to make it four Spanish teams from four in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.