MADRID, Oct 1, (Agencies): Cristiano Ronaldo immediately turned his thoughts to Sunday’s La Liga derby at Atletico Madrid after his Champions League double on Wednesday drew him level with Raul as Real Madrid’s all-time leading marksman on 323 goals. Ronaldo, who scored twice in the 2-0 Group A success at Malmo, has needed a mere 308 matches across seven seasons to equal Raul’s tally, amassed in 741 games over 16 years, and can break the record in the clash at the Calderon.
The Portugal captain, who took his career total for club and country to 501, told reporters Raul had sent him a congratulatory message urging him to “score 300 more”. He then reacted tetchily to questions about why he has largely refused to talk to the media in recent months and quashed suggestions he might leave Real in the short term, possibly to return to former club Manchester United. “My future is at Madrid,” the 30-yearold said. “I want to win things here and I feel good,” he added. “But as I have said a million times nobody knows the future. We will see what happens.” Real were knocked off top spot in La Liga after they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Malaga last weekend and are third on 14 points, level with Celta Vigo and two ahead of Atletico.
Villarreal, who play at Levante on Sunday, are the surprise leaders on 16 points, one ahead of second-placed champions Barcelona, who play at Europa League holders Sevilla on Saturday. “It’s going to be tough,” Ronaldo said of the game at the Calderon, where Real were thumped 4-0 in La Liga last term. “Atletico play very well and are full of confidence,” he added. “We are also in good shape and important players are coming back (from injury).”
Real coach Rafa Benitez is waiting on the fitness of several key men including Wales winger Gareth Bale, Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez and Spain centre back Sergio Ramos. Benitez’s Barca counterpart Luis Enrique also has injury worries, with Spain playmaker Andres Iniesta this week joining the likes of Argentina forward Lionel Messi and Brazil midfielder Rafinha on the sidelines.
After this weekend’s round of games, there is a two-week break in domestic action as players head off for international duty. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo refused to commit his future to Real Madrid just hours after becoming the club’s joint leading scorer of all time with two goals on Wednesday. Ronaldo equalled Raul’s record of 323 goals for the Spanish giants in their 2-0 Champions League win over Malmo despite Raul playing over 400 games more for Los Blancos than the Portuguese star, who also passed 500 career goals on the night.