MADRID, September 14 – Cristiano Ronaldo has more goalscoring records in his sights when Real Madrid get their Champions League campaign underway at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.
Ronaldo became Los Blancos’ all-time top goalscorer in La Liga on Saturday with five goals in a 6-0 rout of Espanyol to move ahead of club legends Raul and Alfredo di Stefano.
The World Player of the Year is now just five adrift of also surpassing Raul’s record as Madrid’s top scorer in all competitions having played more than 400 games fewer than the Spaniard in a Madrid shirt.
Moreover, he has the chance to edge ahead of Lionel Messi as the top scorer in the history of the Champions League with the world’s two best players currently locked on 77 goals apiece.
“Someone who scores so many goals has their place in history forever like Raul or Di Stefano,” said Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.
“I think we are speaking of three historic players and I hope Cristiano continues adding to his tally for his good and the good of the team.”
The thrashing of Espanyol means Benitez’s men have scored 11 times in their last two matches, dispelling pre-season fears that the former Liverpool and Chelsea manager would insist on a more defensive approach this season.
One of Benitez’s biggest tasks when he was handed the job was to get the best out of Gareth Bale after a disappointing second season at the Bernabeu.
The Welshman has flourished in a more central role so far this season and was involved in five of Madrid’s six goals at the weekend despite failing to get on the scoresheet himself.
“Now I feel involved in the play and I think that is showing in the games that I am able to assist goals and score goals,” said Bale.
“We are working hard on the training ground and on the pitch and it’s coming together. We just want to score as many goals as we can.”
Another flood of goals could be on the cards at the Bernabeu against a Shakhtar side weakened by the ongoing unstable political situation in Ukraine.
Mircea Lucescu’s side have played their home fixtures in Lviv, over 600 miles from Donetsk for more than a season.
A run to the last 16 of last season’s Champions League also provided a shop window for many of their best players to secure lucrative moves to top clubs around Europe as Douglas Costa joined Bayern Munich, whilst Luiz Adriano was snapped up by AC Milan.
However, despite the difficulties faced by Shakhtar, midfielder Viktor Kovalenko believes they can cause a massive upset at the Bernabeu.
“I think it is interesting for any player to play against the stars of this level,” he told the club’s website.
“Shakhtar now have a chance not only to play but even beat them. We will try to show our best, making every effort to achieve a victory in this match-up.”