Ronaldo looks forward to New Year

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> After a near-perfect 2003, Ronaldo says he hopes for more of the same in the New Year.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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After a near-perfect 2003, Ronaldo says he hopes for more of the same in the New Year: Lots of goals, trophies and no injuries. Ronaldo, who scored a stunning 42 goals in 56 matches over the last 12 months, leads Real Madrid in its first match of 2004 tomorrow against lowly Murcia. Madrid is top of the Primera Division standings with 39 points from 17 matches, two points ahead of its nearest challenger, Valencia. Besides being the league's most prolific scorer with 14 goals in the current season, Ronaldo also helped Madrid win the league title and the Spanish Supercup. And, perhaps even more importantly for him, he only missed two matches through injury. "2003 has been magnificent, if only for the fact that I had no injuries," Ronaldo told sports daily Marca. "In 2004, I want the same again.... as well as the Champions League." The Champions League, which Madrid has won nine times, is one of the few trophies that have so far eluded the 27-year-old striker. For tomorrow's match, Madrid can count on recovered midfielders David Beckham and Jose Maria Gutierrez, both of whom missed the team's last game of 2003 against Mallorca through injury. Ailing Murcia will be looking to the services of its new goalkeeper Roberto Bonano, who comes on loan from FC Barcelona after a disastrous six months with the Catalan club. "I have had a tough six months and I am taking this opportunity very eagerly," said the Argentine. "I am sure we can stay in the first division." Second-place Valencia looks to have a tough battle on its hands Sunday when it hosts regional rival Villarreal, a provincial club that has stormed into fifth place with sparkling performances from two other Barcelona rejects, Argentine Juan Roman Riquelme and Brazilian Sonny Anderson. No. 3 Deportivo de La Coruna, which lies six points behind Madrid, faces an equally tough match when it travels down the coast tomorrow to meet Celta de Vigo, which is currently floundering at No. 17. Pamplona's Osasuna, fourth in the table at 27 points, travels north to the neighboring Basque region to play No. 8 Athletic de Bilbao on Sunday. FC Barcelona, hoping for a brighter year after missing out on a place in the Champions League last season and finishing the year in a dismal ninth place, faces mid-ranking Racing de Santander on Sunday. "The championship so far has been pretty irregular for Barcelona but we are hoping that the second half of the season proves more solid and we can turn a brighter cheek," said Barcelona club member and former star Jose Maria Bakero. Tomorrow's other 18th-round match sees No. 15 Zaragoza facing No. 6 Atletico de Madrid. On Sunday, Sevilla plays Albacete, Betis is at Valladolid, Espanyol receives Mallorca and Real Sociedad travels to Malaga. (AP)

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