Ronaldo: I'm always in games that matter

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo at a training session on Tuesday. He ended that session prematurely but insists he will be fully fit for tomorrow's Champions League final.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo at a training session on Tuesday. He ended that session prematurely but insists he will be fully fit for tomorrow's Champions League final.PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Cristiano Ronaldo says he will be "100 per cent" in tomorrow's Champions League final as he attempts to fire Real Madrid to a record-extending 11th European Cup win.

The prolific Portuguese, who has stressed his desire to remain at the Spanish giants beyond the end of his contract in 2018, set alarm bells ringing on Tuesday when he ended training prematurely with a knock.

Although he scored the final goal in Real's 4-1 extra-time win over Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final in Lisbon, he has admitted he was far from at his best and is determined to put in a better performance at Milan's San Siro tomorrow.

"Cristiano always appears in the games that matter. I'll be at 100 per cent. On Saturday, I'll be in better form than I was in Lisbon," the forward told Spanish television channel La Sexta.

"In Lisbon, my hamstring was hurting me. It was pretty bad. It was terrible because you know that in certain moments you could give more but you can't because your body doesn't respond."

Ronaldo has scored - and been on the winning side - in both the Champions League finals he has played in, having also won in 2008 with Manchester United. He is the top scorer in this season's tournament with 16 goals and is one strike away from equalling the record tally of 17 he set in 2013-14.

Real's all-time top scorer also gave the club a lift before the final by declaring he wants to stay at Real, despite the 31-year-old being continuously linked with a move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain or a return to Man United.

"Real Madrid would be making a smart decision if they offered me a new contract," he said.

Zinedine Zidane's men are without defenders Raphael Varane and Alvaro Arbeloa for the game, while Atletico have a clean bill of health.

It is a far cry from the dishevelled state in which Diego Simeone's team arrived at the 2014 final, when they struggled with fitness after a long season and suffered key injuries. On their way to that showdown, Atletico won 1-0 at the San Siro. Real, on the other hand, have never won a competitive game at the stadium in 13 attempts.

Atletico defender Diego Godin thinks his side's work ethic could prove key to winning their first European Cup.

He told Uefa.com: "Our big secret is the effort the team puts in. The way the whole team work to help the defence is incredible.

"That shows how committed we are as a team, and how much we believe in our style of play."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline 'Ronaldo: I'm always in games that matter'. Print Edition | Subscribe