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Football: Ronaldo injury worry cools Real revival hope

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Real Madrid are sweating on the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo as they go in search of an unlikely comeback in the second-leg of their Champions League semi-final against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

The Germans are huge favourites to progress to the final at Wembley on May 25 after four goals from Robert Lewandowski handed them a 4-1 win over the Spanish champions in the first-leg at Signal Iduna Park last week.

And any hope of a Madrid revival would seem to depend on their talisman overcoming a thigh strain he suffered in the first-leg.

The Portuguese has scored 50% of Real's 24 goals in the competition so far this season, but missed Saturday's 2-1 win over Atletico in the Madrid derby and also took part in a solitary training session with physical trainer Carlos Lalin on Sunday.

However, midfielder Angel di Maria believes Jose Mourinho's men can take heart from the way in which they started last season's semi-final, second-leg against Bayern Munich.

Trailing 2-1 from the first-leg, Real stormed into an early 2-0 lead on the night and although they ended up going out on penalties, Di Maria said they have to start with the same intensity on Wednesday.

"We have a great chance of going through," he told reporters after scoring the winner against Atleti on Saturday night.

"Last year, against Bayern, we started well and were 2-0 up. We hope that this year we can turn it around, but we need to give everything. In football anything can happen.

"We hope that the fans support us to the maximum, we are going to give everything to try and achieve it."

Presuming Ronaldo is fit, Di Maria's inclusion in the starting line-up is likely to be the only change in the Real side from the first-leg.

The Argentine would have started in Dortmund had the birth of his daughter the day before the game not delayed his arrival in Germany, and he will replace Luka Modric with Mesut Ozil moving back into his preferred central role.

Michael Essien's return to fitness also gives Mourinho the option of playing the Ghanaian at right-back with Sergio Ramos returning to the heart of the defence, but it is expected that the Spanish international will again line-up at full-back with Pepe and Raphael Varane being paired in the centre.

Dortmund, meanwhile, have injury concerns of their own with Polish international full-back Lukasz Piszczek struggling with a groin injury he picked up in the first-leg.

Midfielders Ilkay Gundogan (neck) and Mario Goetze (hip) are also carrying knocks and manager Jurgen Klopp made 10 changes for Saturday's 2-1 win at Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Defender Mats Hummels was the sole survivor from Wednesday's thrashing of Madrid but he said Dortmund still have a long way to go if they are to make it to Wembley next month.

"We don't even have one foot in the final yet, at most all we have is a small toe," he told reporters.

"If anyone goes to Madrid and thinks you can't lose 3-0, then they're being presumptuous."

kca/bc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130428/football-ronaldo-injury-worry-cools-real-revival-hope-0