Ronaldo back to take on unbeaten Barca

MADRID - Cristiano Ronaldo's return to fitness has strengthened Real Madrid in time for their eagerly anticipated trip to face Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

MADRID - Cristiano Ronaldo's return to fitness has strengthened Real Madrid in time for their eagerly anticipated trip to face Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday.

The Portuguese forward was untroubled by the ankle injury that had kept him on the sidelines for the past two months when he came on for the last 20 minutes of Real's drab 1-0 Champions League win over FC Zurich on Wednesday.

"I'll definitely be able to play against Barca. It is up to the coach whether I go from the start," Ronaldo said.

Real took first place from Barca in La Liga last weekend and have a one-point advantage over the champions, but as ever the "Clásico" is much more than just a top-of-the-table tussle.

It is about a clash of styles, and a chance to see how the new-look Real measure up against their arch-rivals, the treble winners.

The return of Florentino Perez to the Real presidency has seen them invest about ß250million (R2,78billion) on players such as Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema. However, under new coach Manuel Pellegrini they are struggling to gel as a unit. The team have lacked personality and bite in Ronaldo's absence.

Barca are admired for their eye-catching football, played with a largely homegrown squad. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi look set to recover in time to help unbeaten Barca defend their 100percent record at home in the league.

Third-placed Sevilla visit basement side Malaga tomorrow and fourth-placed Valencia host Real Mallorca, who are sixth. - Reuters

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