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May 16, 2013

Ronaldo: Final will be strange

With speculation surrounding the future of the Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho, the team have begun preperations for the Copa Del Rey final

Cristiano Ronaldo says playing Friday's Copa del Rey final in an Estadio Santiago Bernabeu half full of Atletico Madrid supporters will be strange, but should not stop Real Madrid winning the trophy.

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Spanish authorities set the 'derbi' final venue earlier in the season, with the Friday evening kick-off agreed so as not to clash with the following night's Eurovision song contest on Spanish TV. The 80,000-seater ground will now have about 30,000 fans of each team, although reports have suggested that ticket prices of up to €275 mean the game may not sell out.

The Portugal international told Real Madrid TV that so many away fans inside the Bernabeu would feel odd but would not affect his team's approach.

"It is going to be a strange final because we are playing in our stadium, but the fans will be divided 50-50," Ronaldo said. "That is not going to take away our ambition to win this cup. We know that the stadium will be divided and we hope the best team wins. If we go out strongly and play as we know how, that will be us."

Ronaldo said he hoped his side received a reception similar to that before the second-leg match against Borussia Dortmund when Blancos fans along the streets outside the Bernabeu cheered the team bus towards the stadium.

"It was amazing," he said. "Since I have been here I have never seen a reception like that. It was a really special, unique moment that none of us players will ever forget. I hope that the same happens on Friday because it motivates us to give our all when we hit the playing field. We are very excited about this trophy and we want to win. We know it is going to be a really hard-fought game against an opponent from the same city. It is going to be a great show. Hopefully Real Madrid can win."

The former Manchester United man headed an extra-time winner against Barcelona in Madrid's last Copa del Rey final appearance in 2011. He said he felt an extra responsibility to do something special again.

"I am approaching it as I do any other match, but with added responsibility," Ronaldo said. "In my head I go into all matches in the same manner, but this is a final. It is a special match, but my ambition will always be the same - to help Real Madrid as best I know how, which is trying to play well, scoring goals, assists. My team-mates and I are playing well. We are ready for Friday."

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