Posted: Monday April 8, 2013 7:04 AM

Madrid aims to finish off Galatasaray in Champions

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ISTANBUL (AP) -Cristiano Ronaldo aims to polish off Galatasaray and ease Real Madrid into the Champions League semifinals, holding a commanding 3-0 advantage heading into Tuesday's meeting in Istanbul.

Ronaldo leads Europe's top-tier competition with nine goals in nine outings. And with Galatasaray needing to score early and often, the prolific Portugal forward will likely enjoy ample chances to add to his tally.

"If we go with the ambition to score a goal, we will go through fine,'' he said.

Ronaldo opened last week's first leg with a delicate chip shot, and he needed just 45 minutes on Saturday to net his 46th goal this season in all competitions and set up another in Madrid's 5-1 rout of Levante in the Spanish league.

The last time Madrid lost by three goals or more in the Champions League was in 2008-09 when it fell 4-0 at Liverpool. Barring a similar upset by the hosts, nine-time champion Madrid is on course to reach its 24th semifinal.

Madrid will be without midfielder Xabi Alonso and center back Sergio Ramos, who will be serving a one-match suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. Backup playmaker Kaka was left off the squad for health reasons.

Young France defender Raphael Varane will likely replace Ramos alongside Pepe, while Alonso's absence could be filled by Luka Modric.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has designated Diego Lopez as his starting goalkeeper, meaning Spain captain Iker Casillas will watch from the dugout for the second straight match since recovering from a broken hand.

"We have a good result, but the series is not over and we need to stay alert,'' Lopez said. "They are good on the counterattack and have players who like to go one-on-one in open spaces. I expect it will be a tough game because of the crowd.

"The key is keeping calm at the back, and then looking to score a goal that would practically seal our pass to the next round.''

Galatasaray is hoping UEFA will remove the yellow card given to striker Burak Yilmaz in the first leg that rules him out of Tuesday's game. Yilmaz, who leads his team with eight goals in the tournament, was booked for supposedly diving in the area, when televised replays show he was fouled by Ramos.

If Yilmaz is not cleared to play, the Turkish leaders' hopes will largely rest on former Mourinho charges Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder.

Coach Fatih Terim's attack-minded game plan backfired for Galatasaray in the first game, as Madrid's scoring trio of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gonzalo Higuain all took full advantage of its exposed defense.

Midfielder Felipe Melo gave Galatasaray a 10 percent chance of going through after its stinging defeat in the Spanish capital.

"Being three goals behind means we must go all out and that will mean leaving spaces in which they can play,'' Melo said. "Nothing is impossible in football, though. As long as there is a chance, I will always believe.

"If we are to go out at home, let's look to do it with our heads held high.''

 
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