Real Madrid in buoyant mood as they prepare for season-defining matches with Manchester City and Valencia with Cristiano Ronaldo fit and Gareth Bale firing
- Real Madrid play Manchester City in Champions League on Wednesday
- Tie is delicately-balanced at 0-0 ahead of the Bernabeu second leg
- And Zinedine Zidane's team will enter the return in upbeat mood
- Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to training after a few games out injured
- Gareth Bale is also showing some of his best form since joining the club
No wonder Real Madrid supporters have started the week in buoyant mood.
Gone is the fear of winning nothing this season, gone is the shadow of Jose Mourinho looming over their young French coach; and gone is the concern that without their stars they will struggle in the three games ahead.
Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) took full part in Real Madrid's training session on Monday morning
Ronaldo (left) chats to Sergio Ramos as the Real Madrid prepare for the match against Manchester City
Gareth Bale (left) on the ball in training, two days ahead of the Champions League semi-final second-leg
Having sat out the first leg of the semi-final in Manchester, Ronaldo is fit and firing once again
Ronaldo's return from injury comes as a further boost to manager Zinedine Zidane ahead of a big week
Gareth Bale described them as finals and has done more than anyone to bring on this wave of late season optimism – he now has a goals-per-minutes ratio of one strike every 87 minutes and with 19 goals in the league he has topped his tally last season with his best ever return.
It seems almost certain that Real will be without Karim Benzema on Wednesday. The Frenchman did not join his team-mates for Monday’s session and needs a miracle to start the game against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Ronaldo’s situation seems to have changed however. There was very little optimism that he would be back in time to start the game at the weekend when he reported for a personal training geared to healing the micro tear in one of the muscles adjacent to his right hamstring.
But on Monday he completed the session with team-mates and is understood to be optimistic about starting the City game.
Gareth Bale has 19 league goals this season and is showing some of his best form for Real Madrid
'The cannon is ready' was Marca's headline on Monday morning as they hailed Ronaldo's return
AS reflected the optimism in the Real Madrid camp that Ronaldo's return to training has brought
Real Madrid are just a point behind La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid with two games left
There was optimism about his participation in the first leg however with coach Zidane declaring him ‘100 per cent’ so there will be caution right up until the moment he steps out on to the Bernabeu turf.
After the meeting with Pellegrini’s City on Wednesday, Real entertain Pako Ayesterán’s Valencia and then go to Deportivo on the last day of the season, where, save a draw or a defeat against Valencia at the weekend, they will still have a chance to win the title.
And if they beat City, then they will also be making plans for Milan to contest their second Champions League final for three years.
Former Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini returns to the Bernabeu with Man City on Wednesday
Pellegrini was manager of Real Madrid during the 2009-2010 season, with the club finishing second
Manchester City arrive on Tuesday with Manuel Pellegrini hoping that final in Milan will be his last job as City manager. In an interview with El Mundo published on Monday he admitted he could be tempted by the Milan job next season.
Asked about Serie A he said: ‘I would love the opportunity to coach in the Italian League.’
He has an offer from Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg but is not convinced and is hoping for an offer from an English or Italian club as soon as the season ends.
Asked about the second leg he said: ‘We will not go there and sit back and look for the 0-0. We know that a draw suits us so long as it is not a goalless one.’
Asked about Ronaldo he referred back to his time as manager at Real saying: ‘Ronaldo has marked an era at Madrid and I had the back luck but to be there the only season when he was out for two months with an ankle problem.