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Cristiano Ronaldo

Jardim backs Ronaldo to beat Griezmann and Modric in Ballon d'Or battle

21:52 WAT 17/09/2018
Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann - cropped
The Monaco boss' loyalties remain with his countryman as he prepares to face Atletico star striker and Ballon d'Or hopeful

Leonardo Jardim declared his support for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or race ahead of Monaco's meeting with Antoine Griezmann and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Perennial contender and current holder Ronaldo is expected to face strong competition from Atleti star Griezmann and former Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modric.

The latter pair excelled at the World Cup, with Griezmann scoring four goals to help France to title-winning glory, which came against Modric's surprising Croatia in the final.

Monaco defender Benjamin Henrichs could be tasked with marking the 27-year-old on Tuesday and suggested the forward "deserves" the award following his performances over the 12 months.

But former Sporting boss Jardim believes Ronaldo – who opened his account for Juventus on Sunday, scoring twice in a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo – should retain his crown.

"I like Griezmann a lot, Modric too, but I'm Portuguese when I think of Ronaldo for the win," he told reporters in a pre-match news conference.

Containing Griezmann, Diego Costa and former Monaco player Thomas Lemar looms as a difficult prospect for a Monaco side low on confidence.

They have collected just five points from as many matches in Ligue 1 and Jardim admitted his team, though Champions League semi-finalists as recently as 2017, are still a work in progress.

"People who know football know the project of Monaco," he said. "It takes a little time to reach a good level. We are working to change the situation, to grow as quickly as possible.

"Last season we did not manage to perform well [in the Champions League]. I hope we will be more successful this year.

"We have the ambition to play in the best competitions and to finish on the podium in the league."

Monaco's other opponents in a tough Group A are Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge, who meet in Belgium on Tuesday.