2014 UEFA Champions League Final: Injury-Hit Cristiano Ronaldo Set to Start

Rahul KalvapalleContributor IIIMay 21, 2014

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium  in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 4, 2014 . (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start for Real Madrid in their Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, despite his recent injury problems. 

Coach Carlo Ancelotti assured journalists gathered for Real Madrid's open media day that Ronaldo will play the final.

It’s been a rather injury-hit season for CR7.

He picked up a hamstring injury during a 5-0 rout of Almeria in late November, missing two weeks of action.

Then in early April, a knee complaint forced him to miss another thrashing of Almeria, this one a 4-0 rout. He went on to skip Real Madrid’s quarter-final second leg versus Borussia Dortmund, a game that saw Los Blancos nearly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Ballon d’Or winner then limped out of Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Real Valladolid on May 7 and eventually missed his team’s last two league fixtures of the season, withdrawing from the line-up for the final game against Espanyol at the 11th hour.

However, Real Madrid's official Twitter account has quoted Ronaldo claiming that he is back to full fitness heading into the final. 

But ESPN FC analyst Santiago Solaria Champions League winner with Real Madridpointed out that while Ronaldo may be fit enough to play, the concern remains that he might not be at his lethal best.

Solari makes an important point. Even though Ronaldo may be declared medically fit for action, he goes into this season-defining game lacking sharpness due to his recent absences from the field.

This is a cause for concern from Real Madrid’s point of view. While a semi-fit Ronaldo is still one of the most dangerous players in the world, a healthy and match-fit Ronaldo is nary unstoppable.

His goalscoring record for Real Madrid251 goals in 245 games, per Realmadrid.comis beyond ridiculous. This season, he even broke the record for most Champions League goals in a single campaign. He has 16two better than the previous recorddespite missing two games, according to Goal.com.

Ronaldo's incredible statistics will momentarily be forgotten, however, if his lack of match practice undermines Real Madrid’s bid to win the final.

His match sharpnessor lack thereofcan surely not be an excuse should Real Madrid lose, given Atletico Madrid’s own substantial injury problems and the vast gulf in resources between the two sides.

At any rate, CR7's propensity for the incredible means it won't come as a shock to anyone if he puts in a match-winning performance in the final in his home country. 

Regardless, Real Madrid fans will understandably be concerned that Ronaldo is not completely match-fit heading into the very game he was signed forthe Champions League final that could bring La Decima to the club.