Cristiano Ronaldo has never failed to score against a former club in Europe and spoke to UEFA.com about “a special match” – when Real Madrid take on Sporting CP on Wednesday.
The all-time leading scorer in UEFA competition, Cristiano Ronaldo does not need much encouragement to get goals in Europe.
But being drawn against a former club in the UEFA Champions League seems to particularly inspire him. In 2007/08, when Manchester United were placed in a group with Ronaldo’s first team Sporting CP, the Portugal forward scored in the eventual champions’ 1-0 and 2-1 wins – rifling in an added-time free-kick in the second leg at Old Trafford.
Then in 2012/13, Ronaldo’s new employers Real Madrid took on United in the round of 16, and Ronaldo struck in each leg of a 3-2 aggregate success.
The triangle is now complete as, on Wednesday, Madrid launch their title defence at home to Sporting. We spoke to the recently-crowned UEFA Best Player in Europe about his latest reunion and Madrid’s attempt to become the first club to win two straight UEFA Champions Leagues.
Ronaldo on playing Sporting CP …
It’s a special match, it’s a special team. I wanted to draw Sporting again, because I think they have a good team, they have a good coach, and it will be another special moment in my life.
I’ve played against Sporting before in the Champions League, against Benfica too, and against Porto. To play Sporting again is a privilege for me.
Ronaldo on Borussia Dortmund and Legia Warszawa …
They’re always difficult teams. We’ve played Borussia Dortmund in this competition before – and lost. We know they’re a very difficult team, especially at their place as they’ve got fantastic fans.
I’ve never played [at Legia], and to be honest I don’t know much about their team, so it will be a new experience, a nice experience against a team I’ve never played against. But I hope there won’t be any surprises and that we can win both matches.
Ronaldo on defending the trophy …
It’s a challenge, it’s a great challenge, and I think at Real Madrid we have a chance to win it again. We know it’s a very difficult competition, but nothing is easy so we’ll try. We’ll take it match by match, and first think about the group stage, as in my opinion it’s a strong group. We’ll see how the competition unfolds. But think positive – that it’s possible to win it again.
On winning European titles with Madrid and Portugal in 2016 …
In terms of trophies it was possibly the best year of my career. After winning the Champions League, winning the European Championship with my country capped an extraordinary year for me.
Trophy-wise it was the best, I’ve never had a better year. The same goes both collectively and individually, because I was top scorer in the Champions League and had a good European Championship, and we were able to win the two biggest trophies. So it really was a top drawer, excellent season for me.