Real Madrid feeling title pressure, admits Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo concedes Real Madrid felt a “little tense” ahead of their derby clash against Atletico on Wednesday night. Just as well then that the Portuguese superstar doesn’t suffer from stage fright.
Ronaldo was at his devastating best on a night when Madrid reasserted themselves in their title tussle with arch rivals Barcelona, netting a hat-trick to help Jose Mourinho’s men to a 4-1 victory.
The result not only earned Los Blancos the bragging rights in the Spanish capital but also saw them regain their four point lead over Barca at the top of the table, with the April 21 meeting between the two looming large and seemingly gaining added significance with every passing day.
Madrid can take another step towards reclaiming the Primera Division title and their first in four years this weekend, but will do so knowing that Ronaldo is walking a disciplinary tightrope.
Madrid welcome Sporting Gijon to fortress Bernabeu before their mouth-watering clash with Barca, but know that should Ronaldo pick up a yellow card, he would miss ‘El Clasico’ through suspension.
His imperious treble on Wednesday night took him to 40 league goals for the season – 51 in all competitions – and Madrid can ill afford to lose him for what could potentially be a title decider in Catalunya.
Especially with the former Manchester United star admitting he and his team-mates had felt the pressure ahead of the Atletico clash after Barca had cut the deficit at the top to just a solitary point following their 4-0 win over Getafe 24 hours previously.
“We were a little tense because Barcelona won on Tuesday and we were forced to win, so mission accomplished. We have to win our remaining games to increase our chances of winning the title,” said Ronaldo. “The team is in good form, confident and ready for its next game.”
While Madrid’s clash with Gijon appears to be a home banker, Barca are faced with a tougher-looking assignment away at Levante.
The Valencia club are fifth and still in the hunt for a Champions League spot and Barca’s players have been left in no doubt as to how important their remaining fixtures are.
Coach Pep Guardiola has ordered them to treat every domestic fixture as though it were a cup final, and winger Pedro told his club’s official website: “We are playing very well as a team and we are really on a roll. “We’ve just taken each game at a time, focussing on ourselves and knowing we couldn’t slip up. We have to be concentrated on the match and nothing else, that’s what Guardiola told us. “Right now every one of the six games left will be like a final. But it’s going to be very hard to overtake them.”