Ahead of their Copa del Rey semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday, Real Madrid CF attacker Cristiano Ronaldo and FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi set the tone by reaching new heights for their respective clubs at the weekend.
Ronaldo explained that the Merengues were "a little sleepy" as they kicked off Sunday's early Liga encounter at home to Getafe CF. However, after a slow start, the champions burst into life in the second half with stand-in captain Sergio Ramos opening the scoring in the 4-0 win before the Portuguese international stole the show with a ten-minute hat-trick, his first goal taking him to 300 at club level.
"I'm really satisfied [to have reached the milestone], yet my main task is to continue giving my all for this club," Ronaldo said. "I want to beat my own records from last season and to be a better player than I was then. [Against Getafe] we were all a little sleepy as we weren't used to playing so early – the game kicked off at midday – but we took our coach's advice at half-time and were much better after the restart."
Having previously registered 118 goals for Manchester United FC – Madrid's UEFA Champions League round of 16 opponents – and five for Sporting Clube de Portugal, Ronaldo took his tally for José Mourinho's side to 179 in 176 games, while his treble on Sunday brought up 100 strikes at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Next up for Madrid's No7 is Wednesday's cup encounter with Barça, a game which he described as "both important and difficult". "We are facing one of the trickiest teams in the world," he said. "We will have a chance to pull off a good result as we will be playing at home. We're all looking forward to the game and I think it will be a great night."
With four goals in Barcelona's 5-1 demolition of ten-man CA Osasuna, Messi surpassed the 200-goal mark in Liga and explained that he was happy his team managed to respond positively to their first Liga reverse of the campaign against Real Sociedad de Fútbol a week earlier.
"Everyone was talking about El Clásico but we knew had to [beat Osasuna]," he said. "The important thing was that as a team we gave a good showing of ourselves and got back to winning ways."
Scoring in his 11th consecutive league match has helped Messi to an impressive 33 goals in 21 outings this term, 11 more than he had managed at the same stage last season, a campaign he ended with a Spanish record of 50. His overall total of 202 in 235 Liga matches for the Blaugrana led to team-mate Javier Mascherano describing his compatriot as "other worldly" and "unreal".
Despite the 15-point difference between the sides in the standings, Mascherano went on to explain that form will count for little when they meet in their semi-final. "In a game like this it doesn't matter [what state] one team or another is in," he said. "We know that we will be facing a great Real Madrid who will be giving their all against us."
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