Skip to main content

Ronaldo admits Real's Champions League 'anxiety'

January 14, 2013 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT)
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has been voted the second best player in the world in each of the last two years.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has been voted the second best player in the world in each of the last two years.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cristiano Ronaldo says Real Madrid are under pressure to win the Champions League
  • Real have won Europe's premier club competition a record nine times, but only once in last decade
  • Ronaldo confident Real can defeat former club Manchester United in the round of 16
  • Portugal international says he will see out the remainder of his contract with Real

(CNN) -- To the casual observer, Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't look like a man that feels pressure.

He is the driving force behind one of the world's biggest football clubs, Real Madrid, and reached 100 goals for Los Blancos faster than any other player in the Spanish champion's 111-year history.

But the Portugal star admits that, behind the bravado and on-field posturing, he and his teammates are feeling the strain of the expectation that surrounds the Madrid club.

Real's stuttering start to the season leaves them 18 points adrift of Spanish First Division leaders and archrivals Barcelona, with the club's fans now demanding coach Jose Mourinho lead Los Blancos to a record 10th triumph in Europe's premier club competition by way of compensation.

Ronaldo: 'I have bad image on pitch'
A day in the life of Cristiano Ronaldo

Real must overcome Manchester United in their last 16 clash if they are to win the European Champions League for the first time in 11 years -- a tie which will see Ronaldo return to the club where he announced himself as a world-class talent before leaving for Madrid in 2009 in a deal worth $129 million.

Read: Kaka sent off as Real miss Mourinho

"I've been here for three-and-a-half years now," the 27-year-old told FIFA's official website. "Everyone involved is totally focused on winning the club's 10th European Cup. That creates a certain amount of anxiety, which can be felt at all times.

"The pressure is too great and that sometimes can affect us. But we have to try and rise above it and not let what people say get to us, particularly the media, as Real Madrid get spoken about every day.

"Every Madridista wants that 1oth European Cup -- we're more than aware of that. Last season we fell just short, which was very frustrating.

"Fortunately we've got the opportunity to set the record straight this year, though the fact we face Manchester United next makes it more difficult. It's not going to be easy and I reckon the odds are about 50-50, but I'm still very confident."

Read: Ferguson hails "very important" win

However, the worry for Spanish champions Real is that their team has been relatively inconsistent this season. While Barca have notched up a record 18 wins from the same amount of games during the current campaign, Mourinho's team have lost four and drawn four of their first 19 matches.

Different side of Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo's best ever goal?

The crowd at the 85,000-seater Santiago Bernabeu stadium have targeted their frustrations at Mourinho -- a Champions League winner with both Porto and Inter Milan -- and Ronaldo.

"We haven't started the championship very well for sure," Ronaldo continued. "We know that La Liga's an uphill struggle for us now, but nothing's impossible in football. We're going to work hard, win games and see what happens.

He added: "I'm able to respect those who criticize me, because I know they've got the wrong idea about me. People who know me and those who've played alongside me know what kind of a guy I am. Those who don't know me can say and think whatever they want."

Ronaldo's return to United, who are currently leading the English Premier League table, has led many to reflect on the six successful years he spent in Manchester, winning the Champions League and being named World Player of the Year in 2008.

Read: Ronaldo admits perceived arrogance has cost him

United manager Alex Ferguson admitted recently he would like to see Ronaldo return to Old Trafford, but the Madeira-born striker has moved to quell talk of an imminent move by saying he wishes to see out the remainder of his contract at Real, which expires in 2015.

"I want to see out my contract at Real Madrid; I'm very clear about that," he said. "After that, well, I don't know what'll happen in the future."

And head of February's contest between Real and United, Ronaldo is confidence his current club can overcome his former employers.

"No team's unbeatable, but when we're at our best we're a really good side. Manchester United have started the English championship race very well and are a long way ahead of the rest.

"But still, if we play the way we're capable of, we can beat them. To do that we need to pull together and play as a team, like we've done in so many matches before."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT