Ronaldo facing Copa final fitness battle
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo is suffering from two separate injury issues, but could still be back to play in next Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, and the following week’s Champions League semifinal first leg at home to Bayern Munich.
Ronaldo has not played since limping out of Madrid’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Borussia Dortmund on April 2 with an apparent knee problem, and did not feature in last Tuesday’s return game in Germany despite travelling with the squad for the game.
On Thursday, Madrid released a short medical bulletin saying Ronaldo also had a thigh injury, and sources close to Ronaldo’s camp have told AS that the Portuguese attacker has a centimetre-long tear in a thigh muscle, picked up during the first Dortmund game. That report also said he travelled to Portugal on Thursday for a “second opinion” on the ongoing tendonitis issue in his left knee from specialist Jose Carlos Noronha.
Los Blancos boss Ancelotti told Friday lunchtime’s news conference that Ronaldo would definitely not play in Saturday’s La Liga game against Almeria at the Bernabeu, but he could still potentially recover in time for the Copa final against Barcelona four days later.
“[Ronaldo] is not available for tomorrow,” Ancelotti said. “He got injured against Dortmund. Then, in the warm-up of the training before the return [last Monday], he had an issue again. We must wait for some days. He is having treatment. I have spoken with him, he is not happy. I believe he will recover for the final, but we will not take any risks. If he is not okay, then he will not play.”
Ancelotti did however confirm that Ronaldo had two distinct fitness issues at the moment, explaining: “[Ronaldo] had a small injury in his tendon which he suffered against Dortmund in the first leg. The problem with his knee has complicated the muscular issue. We are not going to take risks, we will allow him to recover.”
Friday’s Champions League draw pitted Madrid against long-time nemesis Bayern in the last four, with the first leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday April 23, and the return in Munich the following Tuesday April 29.
“The draw is a good one because we are in it,” Ancelotti said. “It will be against a difficult team but we are motivated to do well. Bayern have individual and collective quality, and [Josep] Guardiola is one of the best coaches in the world. [But] at the moment I am just thinking about tomorrow’s game, as to win La Liga we need to win all our six remaining games.”
The Italian coach said he did not agree with the air of disappointment which followed Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat in Dortmund, saying he preferred to focus on the 3-0 first-leg victory, and the fact that his side are still battling to win that competition, the Copa and the La Liga title.
“I heard that [Dortmund coach Juergen] Klopp said they would have to bring out a DVD of the game,” he said. “I believe our performance in the first leg was like an Oscar-winning film. There has been too much criticism. It could be that we will win three trophies, or we win none, but for the first time in a long time we are fighting for the three titles.”
Ronaldo is unlikely to be needed on Saturday given Almeria are currently 19th in the table, with just one win in nine games, and were beaten 8-1 on their last visit to the Bernabeu in May 2011. Madrid also won this season’s reverse fixture 5-0 last November.
With Xabi Alonso and Dani Carvajal both suspended due to their accumulation of yellow cards, Ancelotti is likely to start Nacho Fernandez at right-back, and confirmed that Asier Illarramendi would start in midfield. Marcelo is close to a return from a muscle injury, but is unlikely to be risked just yet.