UCL 2016/17: Cristiano Ronaldo faces former club Sporting CP as Real Madrid start title defence

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Madrid, Sep 13: Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo will have a chance to play against his former football club Sporting Lisbon, when the Spanish giants kick off their Champions League title defence with a home tie against the Portuguese club on Wednesday.

Real Madrid will be favourites to win the game which they go into as the leaders of the Spanish Liga with three wins from as many matches and high on confidence, reports Xinhua.

Real Madrid players practice ahead of Champions League match

The only injury problem for coach Zinedine Zidane is goalkeeper Keylor Navas who is recovering from an ankle injury and will once again be replaced by Kiko Casilla, who has kept goal in the first three games of the season.

Zidane will make changes from the side which defeated Osasuna 5-2 on Saturday with Dani Carvajal and Marcelo returning as full backs and Casimiro replacing Mateo Kovacic in central midfield after Zidane rested the trio at the weekend.

Elsewhere, the only major issues are whether Isco will be on the bench after an ankle injury or if Karim Benzema will start in attack ahead of Alvaro Morata.

Meanwhile, the game will be special for Ronaldo, who will play against the club where he began his career.

"I wanted to face Sporting again," he said in an interview with UEFA. "They have a good team, they have a good coach and it will be a special moment. I have played against them before and also against Benfica and Porto, but facing Sporting is always special for me," he commented.

Sporting are the main threat to Madrid in their qualifying group along with Borussia Dortmund, while Legia Warsaw will have to work hard to avoid finishing bottom.

"We have faced Dortmund in this competition and lost and they are especially tough to beat in their home ground and I have to admit that I have never faced Warsaw and I don't know much about them at the moment," continued Ronaldo, who said he believed that Real Madrid could follow last season's success and win a 12th European title this season.

IANS

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