Cristiano Ronaldo set for La Liga return against Real Betis after suspension
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is finally set to play his first La Liga game of the season against Real Betis on Wednesday, with coach Zinedine Zidane "happy" to have him back in the side.
Ronaldo has missed Madrid's opening four La Liga games of the campaign due to a suspension imposed when he pushed the referee after being sent off in the Spanish Super Cup first leg at Barcelona in August.
"We are not going back over what happened, we are now happy to have him back," Zidane told a news conference. "We hope this is the last time we do not have him.
"We are happy, and most of all for him. He is very happy as he likes to play, be with his teammates. He is back now. We have tomorrow's game, at home, and we know that everyone likes to play in this stadium."
Since his red card, Madrid's record scorer has played and found the back of the net in the 2-1 Bernabeu Trophy friendly win over Fiorentina and 3-0 Champions League victory against Apoel Nicosia. However, he was forced to watch home league draws against Levante and Valencia, which saw Zidane's side drop four points behind early leaders Barcelona.
This could spell trouble for Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, according to their goalkeeper, Antonio Adan, who came through the ranks at Madrid and left in 2013.
"Ronaldo is the best, obviously," Adan told AS. "For sure he will want to score now all the goals he couldn't before. We must work well defensively and when we have the ball, play our own style."
Zidane may also return Toni Kroos to the XI on Wednesday as the Germany international has returned to training with the squad after missing Sunday's 3-1 win at Real Sociedad due to a muscle problem. Marcelo is also back from suspension and should start at left-back.
Mateo Kovacic, Karim Benzema and Jesus Vallejo are all still sidelined through various injury issues, with Theo Hernandez a doubt following a shoulder problem picked up when deputising for Marcelo against Sociedad.
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