Zidane: Real Madrid not dependent on returning Ronaldo

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Cristiano Ronaldo is eager to return to action as he prepares for his first start of the season when Real Madrid begin their Champions League title defence today against APOEL, coach Zinedine Zidane said yesterday at his pre-match press conference.

'The end is the destination, not Barca, and I was delighted to be at Real Madrid and to defend this shirt'.

"I've been kicking a football since I was three years old and this was always my dream, but I've often felt like giving up".

"You can say we lack a No. 9, and maybe we do", he said. "We are happy to have him back, physically he is very fit, and mentally with all that has happened, all the talk, he is very good".

"He doesn't just bring goals", said Zidane on Tuesday.

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Ronaldo's return boosts Real's attack after a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Levante on Saturday, their second successive home draw which left them trailing early Liga leaders Barcelona and Real Sociedad by four points. He always wants to win and he transmits that to the rest. "We would have liked Morata to stay, but he wanted to play more, to leave, and we respected that".

Every month, UEFA will be promoting an amateur footballer from around Europe, who is able to show that age, disability or ethnicity is no obstacle to playing and enjoying football. Besides Karim, we have Gareth [Bale] and Cristiano. "We're all excited to have him back with us".

In team news, centre-back Raphael Varane is available again following an adductor muscle issue, while emerging star Marco Asensio is a doubt with his own new injury problem.

The Spain worldwide, who arrived at Madrid from Mallorca in 2014, is considered one of the brightest young talents in the world.

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