Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo is not 100 percent fit at the moment, but says the Real Madrid attacker will nevertheless start Saturday’s La Liga clash with Rayo Vallecano at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
• Train: Crisis, what crisis?
Ronaldo has scored in each of his last nine games for club and country, but widespread local media reports on Friday morning claimed the Portuguese had played in Madrid’s recent defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla while suffering pain from a tendonitis problem in his left knee.
The Madrid coach told reporters at his post-training news conference on Friday that there was a slight injury but it was not serious enough to stop Ronaldo either training or playing as normal.
“Ronaldo has a small issue but it is does not stop him training normally or hamper him in games,” Ancelotti said. “Tomorrow he will play as normal. He trained well today, and has no problem. He has confidence. If things get worse naturally he would rest. But at the moment everyone is relaxed. It is a very, very small problem which can heal in the coming days as he trains and plays.”
Madrid were La Liga leaders as recently as a week ago, but now go into Saturday’s game third in the table, three points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid and two behind second-placed Barcelona.
Ancelotti admitted the two consecutive losses had been a blow, while saying his team had played well and just paid dearly for small errors in each game.
“What we have lost is that we no longer depend on ourselves in La Liga,” he said. “But we still have confidence as the defeats were not due to problems in our play. We played well, but at the moment we are paying very dearly for errors we make. We conceded six goals, making small mistakes of positioning, small things, not of concentration. Now we are behind, but we will keep fighting until the last game.”
Ancelotti can bring back in Angel Di Maria and Sergio Ramos -- both suspended for the game at Sevilla -- against Rayo, but may be without Luka Modric who missed training on Friday with a fever.
He said he had not yet decided the starting side, but he was not considering resting players such as Xabi Alonso ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg at home to Borussia Dortmund.
“Modric has a fever and did not train today,” the Italian coach said. “We will have to see how he is tomorrow. We will also look and see what players might be tired. The most important game is to prepare well against Rayo and then prepare the next game in CL. Xabi is comfortable, fine physically. He might have made some errors in those games but he is a very important player for us.”
The former Chelsea boss played down a controversy which has pointed a finger at Gareth Bale for being off the pitch changing his boots when Sevilla scored their winner on Wednesday.
“He had a problem and could not continue playing with his boots in that condition, so he had to change them,” Ancelotti said. “Bale has helped the team in his last two games. He is in very good condition physically and technically at this moment. Bale, just like the team, must keep fighting.”
Finally, the Blancos boss praised Rayo, whose recent upswing in form has seen them climb out of the relegation zone to 13th with four wins and a draw in their last five games.
“Rayo are playing very well,” Ancelotti said. “They are a very good example of how smaller teams can try and play good football. That adds value to the Spanish league. Tomorrow will be a difficult game. We need to react and win the game, show the right attitude and motivation to do things.”