Update: Cristiano Ronaldo no closer to Real Madrid return

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With Real Madrid drawn against reigning European champions Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semifinals on Friday, they’ll need all of their star players to get past the German powerhouses.

Cristiano Ronaldo is top of that list.

However the Portuguese winger, who is the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, has been struggling with complications in a hamstring injury which saw he suffered against Borussia Dortmund last week and the situation has been complicated by further issues.

Speaking in his Friday press conference, Real’s head coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that Ronaldo will miss the match against Almeria this weekend but is still hopeful that Ronaldo will be fit for the Copa Del Rey final against bitter rivals Barcelona on April 16.

“He’s not available for the game tomorrow. He was initially injured against Borussia Dortmund, then later he aggravated it again warming up in training,” Ancelotti said. “I don’t know yet if he’ll be available for the Copa del Rey final. We’ll have to wait a couple of days and he’s having treatment. I’ve spoken with him and he’s not happy about it. I think that we may have him back for the final, but we’re not going to take any risks. If he’s not right, he won’t play. He has a small tendon injury that he suffered against Dortmund in the first-leg. That has also complicated the muscle injury. We think there’s a possibility of him playing in the final of the Copa del Rey, as it isn’t a serious injury. We’re not going to take risks though and we’ll let him recover.”

Ronaldo, 29, has been in sensational form for club and country once again this season with 49 goals in 39 games. But with Bayern coming up, Real will now wrap their star player in cotton wool. If Madrid have serious ambitions of getting past Bayern and reaching the Champions League final for the first time since 2003, then Ronaldo must be fully fit. End of.

With him on board, Real are capable of beating anyone, without him, Europe’s elite will find it so much easier to down the Spanish giants. With Ronaldo’s fitness in doubt for the Copa del Rey final, which takes place a week before the UCL semifinal first leg vs. Bayern, it is now a race against time for Ronaldo to get back to full fitness. He is one of those players that thrives from his superior athleticism and if he’s not at his peak, you can tell straight away.

Real will be hoping a fully fit Ronaldo is back scoring, strutting and smashing goals in by the time their UCL semi with Bayern rolls around. But after Ancelotti’s comments, it seems like it’s a race against time.

Group C wide open as Denmark, Australia settle for draw

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Denmark and Australia settled for a 1-1 draw on Thursday, as this exciting Group C affair had nothing to separate the two nations at the end of 90 minutes.

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As it stands, the Danes lead the group with four points, while Australia earned its first point of the World Cup.

France will meet Peru later on Thursday, with Les Bleus having won its first match and Peru having suffered defeat to Denmark.

The Danes broke through after seven minutes when Nicolai Jørgensen picked out a perfect back-heel pass to Christian Eriksen at the top of the box, before the Tottenham Hotspur attacker volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.

Jørgensen nearly doubled the Denmark advantage in the 24th minute when the 27-year-old had an open header from close range that skewed just wide of the target.

Australia worked its way into the match following the opener, and were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after VAR Mark Geiger altered an initial decision for a handball inside the box.

Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick to level the match at 1-1, giving the Socceroos life.

A dangerous free kick four minutes later almost gave Denmark the lead once again, however, Eriksen couldn’t get a crucial touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line before Ryan collected.

The second half continued with lightning pace from both sides, and Aaron Mooy‘s 71st minute blast came inches away from giving Australia an improbable lead.

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The two nations will conclude Group C play on June 26, as Denmark faces France and Australia takes on CONMEBOL side Peru.

Video: VAR awards Australia penalty, before Jedinak converts

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The Socceroos battled admirably in the latter stages of the first half, and Australia was rewarded for their efforts.

Australia has leveled the match at 1-1 after a Mile Jedinak penalty kick cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s stunning opener in the seventh minute.

After an initial decision to play on by the head referee, VAR Mark Geiger opted to award a penalty kick to the Aussies after Yussuf Poulsen was caught with his hand away from his body on a Mathew Leckie header.

Poulsen was also shown a yellow card for the infraction, which rules him out for Denmark’s group-stage finale against France.

Video: Eriksen volley has Denmark ahead inside 10 minutes

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Denmark is well on its way to another three points on Thursday, and this time it’s Christian Eriksen who has finally broken through at the World Cup.

 MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Eriksen put the Danes in front in the seventh minute after a tremendous volley that gave Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan no chance at keeping it out.

After a sloppy turnover in their own half, Australia could only watch as the ball fell to Nicolai Jørgensen, who cleverly back-heeled to Eriksen at the top of the box.

The Danes pulled off a 1-0 victory in their first Group C match against Peru, while Australia fell 2-1 to France.

Croatia coach says “we have nothing to lose” against Argentina

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Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic chose his words wisely when discussing their final Group D opponent, Argentina, but his side won’t be backing down when they take on Lionel Messi and Co.

[ MORE: Spain gets win after Iran equalizer called off by replay ]

With three points already in the bag for the European nation, Croatia currently sits atop their group, however, Dalic recognizes the task that lies in front of him and his team on Thursday.

“I didn’t say that Argentina was the easiest opponent,” Dalic said. “I said that this was the easiest game for us. We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best.”

Croatia does have the benefit of having won its first match in group play, which has given the side a decided enthusiasm heading into the meeting.

For Ivan Rakitic — who plays at Barcelona with Messi — he believes there isn’t much he or anyone on his team can say or do to further prepare themselves for the Albiceleste.

“What can I tell them that they don’t know?” Rakitic said. “The world knows. Messi is one of the best players in the world. He will have his moments, clearly. It is up to us to stop him, to play the right way against him, and to enjoy the match and play our best.

“It’s a beautiful thing to play against one of the best teams in the world. We are especially motivated.”

In four all-time meetings, Argentina leads 2-1-1 against Croatia, including a 1-0 victory during the 1998 World Cup in France.

The two teams last met in 2014 following Argentina’s World Cup final defeat to Germany, with Messi and Co. earning a 2-1 victory over Croatia.