Zinedine Zidane hopes Cristiano Ronaldo's ban overturned on appeal
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he remains hopeful that Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for Wednesday's Spanish Super Cup second leg at home to Barcelona -- despite his five-match ban for being sent off in Sunday's first leg.
Ronaldo was shown a second yellow card late on in Madrid's 3-1 win at the Camp Nou after referee Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea ruled he had dived to try and win a penalty. The Portugal captain reacted by pushing the Basque official in the back, earning an extra four-game suspension on top of the mandatory one-match ban for the red card.
Although the four-game punishment is at the minimum end of the 4-12 games mandated under regulations whenever a match official is even "slightly" pushed by a player, Zidane told a news conference that he would wait until an appeal was heard on the morning of the game before deciding on his squad.
"The committee will meet tomorrow morning, and after that we will see what we will do ourselves," the Blancos coach said. "I don't know what will happen.
"This annoys us a lot. I do not get into it with referees. But when you watch it back, and think that in the end Cristiano will miss five games with us... I know referees have a hard job, and anybody can make a mistake. But in the end five games for what happened is a lot. It is normal for us to be annoyed."
It was the sixth red card of Ronaldo's eight years at Madrid, and in previous cases the club have often pushed the appeals process as far as possible.
The Portugal captain has also appeared in a Madrid court to face tax fraud charges, with the player reported to feel he has been unfairly targeted due to his huge public profile.
Asked if he saw evidence of a "campaign" against Ronaldo, Zidane declined to rule out the possibility.
"I don't know," he said. "I hope not. I don't want to get into this, but in the end, this does not deserve five games. We are annoyed today, thinking that we will be without Cristiano for a long time. He is annoyed [too] as he wants to play, and when he can't play he gets annoyed."
The controversy has overshadowed the build-up to the game, in which Barca must overcome a two-goal deficit and the concession of three away goals to pull off an unlikely comeback.
With the Catalan club still reeling off the pitch following Neymar's shock departure to Paris Saint-Germain, Zidane was asked if he was looking forward to a chance to plunge them into further chaos.
"I am not too worried about their situation," he said. "I just focus on what we do. It will be a very difficult game as they are a very proud team, and will come here very motivated to change the result.
"In any moment Barcelona can make it difficult for you. I have no doubt about that. In the first leg they had chances, so we must play a good game, as we did there, and play right until the end."
With no new injury worries for the game, and ahead of Sunday's La Liga opener at Deportivo La Coruna, Zidane is likely to rotate his side with Luka Modric one of the players coming in after he was suspended on Sunday.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan