Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale rested for Real Madrid's Copa del Rey game
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has been rested by coach Zinedine Zidane for Thursday evening's Copa del Rey quarterfinal first leg at Leganes, with Gareth Bale and Marcelo the other first-teamers excused from the short trip.
Ronaldo's future at the Bernabeu remains unclear with the player himself pushing for a move elsewhere as club president Florentino Perez has not yet accepted his demand of a new contract that would reportedly increase his wages to around €50 million a year.
Zidane has made clear that he hopes Ronaldo stays where he is, while sources close to the player have confirmed to ESPN FC that he wants to move in the summer.
Last season the Portugal captain sat out the early Copa rounds, but was back in the team by this stage of the competition -- when Madrid were knocked out on away goals by Celta Vigo.
The squad announcement confirmed that Bale and Marcelo were also not included, while Karim Benzema (hamstring) and Sergio Ramos (calf) remain sidelined through injury.
With Zidane's side now 19 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona in La Liga, and facing serious criticism from the local press for the first time in two years, Leganes coach Asiero Garitano told his prematch news conference that he was worried his team could pay for Madrid's current frustration.
"You [media] are saying Cristiano is doing badly," Garitano said. "That will make them angry against us. They are still Real Madrid. I am sure that in the Copa and Champions League they will show their best form."
Madrid won 4-2 at Butarque last April, with Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez on the scoresheet after Zidane had rested nine first-teamers.
"We saw what happened last year," Garitano said. "The best players, in quotation marks, did not come. But they rolled over us. We will see if we have improved."
However, Morata and James have moved on, with youngsters like Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos and Borja Mayoral not having stepped up regularly so far this season.
The teams are set to meet again at Butarque in La Liga on Wednesday Feb 21, in a game rearranged due to Madrid's participation in last December's Club World Cup.
Leganes president Victoria Pavon told Marca that despite her team never having been so far in the Copa in their 89-year history, she would take elimination if guaranteed three points from next month's Liga game to help their bid for safety.
"Our objective is survival in La Liga," Pavon said "I wouldn't be too worried about being knocked out... I would almost say I'd prefer to take the La Liga points and Madrid can win the cup tie. I am more a realist than a dreamer, a bit cold about these things. Hopefully it will be a good game, we have already made history."
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