Unless Cristiano Ronaldo suddenly decides to add mercy to his list of virtues, the Real Madrid forward will have a good shot at scoring his 100th goal in European competition on Wednesday.
Ronaldo, who once aptly described himself as “rich, handsome and a great player,” is two goals short of that landmark before Madrid visits Legia Warsaw in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Portugal forward arrives primed for more goals after recovering his ruthless touch on Saturday, when he scored his 38th career hat trick in a 4-1 win at Alaves in the Spanish league.
Ronaldo is the all-time leading scorer in the Champions League, with 95 of his European goals coming in the tournament he helped Madrid win for a record 11th time last season.
But Barcelona rival Lionel Messi has closed the gap with Ronaldo in their never-ending scoring duel after netting six goals to lead the Champions League this season. That’s compared to Ronaldo’s two so far. Messi has 89 Champions League goals, and 92 in all UEFA competitions.
Legia looks like easy pickings for Ronaldo. The Polish team has lost all three group matches and conceded a tournament-high 13 goals.
And its players will face Madrid all alone at Wojska Polskiego Stadium, whose doors will be closed to the public by UEFA as a penalty for fans’ racist behavior and the fireworks thrown during a previous loss to Borussia Dortmund.
Madrid, which beat Legia 5-1 in their first meeting without any goals from Ronaldo, are undefeated in 26 matches across all competitions dating back to last season’s quarterfinals. They have won their last five matches overall by the combined score of 24-5.
Gareth Bale will also be eager to shine after signing a new contract with Madrid through 2022.
The only worry for Madrid is the absence of injured center backs Pepe and Sergio Ramos.
Madrid will qualify for the last 16 if it wins and Dortmund beats Sporting Lisbon in the other Group F match.
Here are some others things to know about Wednesday’s matches:
Group E is proving to be this season’s most competitive quartet.
Only three points separate leader Monaco from last-place CSKA Moscow before they meet in the Mediterranean principality. Monaco has been boosted this campaign by the arrival of Poland defender Kamil Glik, whose late goal earned a draw against Bayer Leverkusen.
Tottenham hosts Leverkusen with both sides hoping for a win combined with a Monaco slip to move to the top of the group. Spurs haven’t won in five matches across all competitions without injured striker Harry Kane.
Dortmund, like Madrid, can advance with a win over Sporting Lisbon.
Mario Goetze, who returned to Dortmund this season from Bayern Munich, has shown some flashes of his rich talent. But more will be needed for Dortmund make another run to the final like in 2013, which Goetze missed because of injury.
“To do it would be my biggest dream come true. I’ve been working every day for it,” Goetze said. “Yet that was a long time ago. I’m focusing on the future and on this Champions League season. It’s not going to be easy next time against Sporting.”
Its Premier League title defense may be in serious trouble, but Leicester City is outperforming the other English sides in its first foray in the Champions League.
Three wins in as many matches mean Leicester can seal a place in the knockout rounds with another win over FC Copenhagen.
In the other group match, FC Porto welcomes Brugge hoping to break a run of four home matches without a victory in Europe.
Juventus and Sevilla are level at the top of Group H and can go through with victories in their respective home matches against Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb.
Juventus faces Lyon fresh off an encouraging 2-1 win over domestic rival Napoli, which allowed it to build a four-point lead in Serie A.
Sevilla will be without midfielder Samir Nasri, who has been playing well for the Andalusian side on loan from Manchester City.
Nasri scored Sevilla’s winner in a 1-0 victory in Zagreb. He then picked up a left leg muscle injury over the weekend.