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Ronaldo cannot wait for ‘special’ Sporting Lisbon match

Ronaldo moved from his family home in Madeira to Sporting’s academy at the age of 12 and spent one season in the first team

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Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo faces an emotional reunion with boyhood club Sporting Lisbon when his side begin the defense of their Champions League crown on Wednesday.

Ronaldo, who scored the decisive penalty in the shootout win over Atletico Madrid in last season’s final, returned to club football following an injury layoff when he scored in the 5-2 thrashing of Osasuna on Saturday.

Ronaldo moved from his family home in Madeira to Sporting’s academy at the age of 12 and spent one season in the first team, scoring five times in 30 appearances in all competitions before joining United in 2003.

“It’s a special match, it’s a special team,” he told www.uefa.com. “To play Sporting again is a privilege for me.

“It’s a great challenge and I think at Real we have a chance to win it again,” he added. “We know it’s a very difficult competition...but we think positive, that it’s possible to win it again.”

Ronaldo played 65 minutes against Osasuna, his first appearance since injuring his knee in Portugal’s Euro 2016 final win over France in July, and is expected to start against Sporting.

Karim Benzema is likely to return to the starting lineup for the first time this campaign after struggling with a hip problem but midfielder Isco, defender Fabio Coentrao and goalkeeper Keylor Navas are injured.