Cristiano Ronaldo Looks to Break Out of Slump in Champions League

Published: 16th February 2015 10:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th February 2015 10:10 PM   |  A+A-

cristiano-ronaldo
By AP

PARIS — Cristiano Ronaldo finds himself in a rare position: the goals are drying up for the Real Madrid star.

The Ballon d'Or winner has not scored in his past three games and has netted just four times in the past 10 — totally unexpected giving that he started the season with 17 in his first 11.

The good news is that Schalke is the next opponent: they meet in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Ronaldo scored four goals when Madrid routed the German side 9-2 on aggregate in the competition last season.

Goals have been easy to come by, too, for rampant Bayern Munich, which warmed up for Tuesday's trip to play Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk with an 8-0 destruction of Hamburger SV.

Paris Saint-Germain has been struck by a major injury crisis ahead of Tuesday's home game against fully-fit Chelsea — which knocked PSG out at the quarterfinal stage last season.

Swiss side Basel faces Porto on Wednesday.

Here are some other things to know about the Champions League's last-16 games:

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DECIMATED PSG

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is doing a head-count to see who is fit to face Chelsea.

Midfielder Yohan Cabaye, Brazilian winger Lucas, center half Lucas and right back Sergie Aurier all limped off injured in Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Caen and have been ruled out. Midfielder Blaise Matuidi is rated as doubtful after taking a blow to his knee.

"We won't have a lot of options, we'll have (Thiago) Motta and maybe (Javier) Pastore," Blanc said. "We knew we were on the razor's edge in terms of tiredness but I honestly never thought this kind of thing would happen. We're very unlucky in terms of the number of injuries and it will have an impact."

With Lucas out, Blanc desperately needs Pastore to be fit.

The Argentine playmaker was PSG's best player when it beat Chelsea 3-1 in the home leg of their Champions League quarterfinal last season.

"For the time being I can't confirm he'll be in the squad," Blanc said.

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RESTED CHELSEA

The contrast between injury-hit Paris Saint-Germain and fully-rested Chelsea could not be greater.

While PSG lost four players to injury on Saturday, Jose Mourinho's Chelsea players benefited from a rare weekend off with the team not involved in FA Cup action.

"I welcome this little rest for the players," said Mourinho, who is bidding to win the competition with a third different club after success with Porto and Inter Milan.

Even worse for PSG — which also played a midweek French Cup game — is that Chelsea's top scorer Diego Costa will be fresh after serving a three-game ban.

The Spain forward has 17 league goals in 19 games this season but is still looking for his first Chelsea goal in the Champions League.

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MANGLED MADRID

Real Madrid seemed invincible while on a Spanish-record 22-win streak to close out a trophy-rich 2014. But since then it has proven vulnerable as it racks up losses and injuries.

Carlo Ancelotti's side has seen its defense of the Copa del Rey crown ended by Atletico Madrid, which also dealt it a 4-0 thrashing in the league for Madrid's biggest loss since 2010.

The European champion's struggles come with its defense and midfield hit by injuries. James Rodriguez (broken right foot), Luka Modric (left leg), Sergio Ramos (left leg), Pepe (ribs) and Fabio Coentrao (right leg) are all out of Wednesday's match against German side Schalke 04.

Aside from Rodriguez, Madrid's star-powered attack is fully intact with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale all available.

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BAYERN BACK IN BUSINESS

Bayern Munich answered a recent dip in form with an 8-0 hammering of Hamburger SV for the club's biggest Bundesliga win in over 30 years on Saturday.

"I'm happy that we're back to our way of playing," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said ahead of Tuesday's trip to play Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk.

Germany defender Holger Badstuber showed no signs of rust on his return from five months out with a left thigh injury. He had missed 20 months before that with a knee injury.

Bastian Schweinsteiger will play defensive midfield against Donetsk if Xabi Alonso doesn't recover from a thigh strain.

Franck Ribery is available again after scoring Saturday on his return from a thigh injury, while Rafinha returned from an ankle injury. Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara are all out.

The game is being played in Lviv due to the deadly conflict in the east of Ukraine.

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ODD ONES OUT

Basel vs Porto is the only one of eight pairings without a club from the big three Champions League nations of Spain, England and Germany — and that suits them just fine.

They have just a single quarterfinal appearance between them since Porto became European champion for a second time in 2004.

Basel showed it must be respected at St. Jakob-Park in its only last-16 appearance during that span, beating Bayern Munich 1-0 in the first leg.

Still, Basel is now without several players, including Switzerland center-back Fabian Schaer, who is suspended.

A strange January transfer policy saw two international midfielders — Marcelo Diaz of Chile and Ivory Coast's Geoffroy Serey Die — sold to German clubs and forward Giovanni Sio loaned out.

Porto was among just three clubs, with Real Madrid and Chelsea, to advance unbeaten through its group.

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