Cristiano Ronaldo fit to face La Real
Cristiano Ronaldo has recovered from the effects of some tough tackling against Juventus in midweek and is set to start Real Madrid’s home game against Real Sociedad on Saturday.
• Train: Casillas hard to ignore
Sources close to Ronaldo’s camp had told the Spanish press that the attacker was unhappy at the physical treatment Juve dished out during Wednesday's 2-2 Champions League draw, and the Portugal international had trained indoors in the gym on Thursday to help him recover from the bumps and bruises he had picked up.
However, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters at Friday lunchtime that Ronaldo was able to handle the physical side of the game and he would be ready for the weekend’s match in La Liga.
“Cristiano is fine,” Ancelotti said. “He had a small problem with his toe, but he has no problem for tomorrow. I am not worried about [attention from defenders] -- he has the physique for that. He is a very quick player, so he will get contact from the opposition. He can deal with that.”
Ancelotti revealed he did was waiting to see how Marcelo and Sami Khedira recovered before he chose his side to start against La Real.
“Today we had small problems with Marcelo with his knee, and Khedira got a bang on his right leg,” he said. “For that we need to wait. Marcelo will have a scan; Khedira we must wait and see how he recovers. Both may or may not be able to play tomorrow.”
Ancelotti said Xabi Alonso, whom he hopes to tie down to a new contract, will start the game and added: “If he feels good and does not play badly he could play the 90 minutes.”
Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas is expected to return to the bench for that game despite his outstanding display in Turin.
This has led to a new clamour in the Madrid media for Ancelotti to end his policy of rotating his keepers and playing Diego Lopez in La Liga, and also to a suggestion that Bundesliga side Schalke are interested in signing Casillas, who spoke about his future after the match.
The Italian coach dealt calmly with questions on both issues.
“In football you must make decisions, and that one was taken in that moment. It is not going to change today,” he said. “Iker was very clear after the game: he wants to stay here. We want him to stay too, so there is no problem.”
Ancelotti, who was whistled by fans before Madrid's last home game against Sevilla, said he accepted the criticism as his team had not always played well recently.
“It is simple,” he said. “They are not happy at the moment at how the team is playing.”
Pepe’s recovery means he is likely to partner Raphael Varane in defence on Saturday, given Sergio Ramos is suspended. With Fabio Coentrao still out with an ankle problem, and Marcelo now a doubt, Alvaro Arbeloa could start at left-back, with Dani Carvajal on the right of the defence.
Isco and Angel Di Maria, who have both dropped out of the side in recent weeks as Gareth Bale has proven his fitness with a burst of goals and assists, may have to continue to wait for their chances, Ancelotti suggested.
“Isco’s problem is just the competition -- sometimes he plays, sometimes he is on the bench,” he said. “He had a small problem and needed a quick rest, but he is fine now. Di Maria is playing very well, but competition for places puts you on the bench. He has not lost confidence. He is relaxed and ready to play.”
The former Paris Saint Germain manager said he expected Real Sociedad -- who lost a thriller 4-3 at the Bernabeu last season -- to provide another “difficult game”.
He added: “They are a very good team -- you just need to look at what they did last year in La Liga. Maybe this season it is more difficult for them as they are playing in the Champions League too. They played well against Manchester United [in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw]. It should be an exciting game as both teams have quality in attack. It is a good test for us. We must play well, with intensity and continuity.”