Ronaldo to miss Madrid derby
Aitor Karanka has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo is to miss Saturday's Madrid derby, but says the Real Madrid forward should be fit for next Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Jose Mourinho's assistant told reporters after training at Madrid's Valdebebas facility on Friday afternoon that Ronaldo had picked up a thigh muscle injury during Madrid's shock 4-1 first leg defeat at Dortmund on Wednesday, and had not trained since.
"Ronaldo has a muscular problem," Karanka said. "He has not trained today or yesterday, so he is not in the squad for this game. We will see how he is in training on Sunday and Monday, but in principle he should be fine for Tuesday."
The Basque coach also said that Marcelo (hamstring) and Alvaro Arbeloa (back) were the only other players out, which means midfielders Luka Modric and Michael Essien should be available for Saturday's game at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
Mourinho is expected to rotate his side for that game, with Raul Albiol, Ricardo Carvalho and Jose Callejon among those who could come in, and Madrid Castilla youngsters Casemiro, Nacho and Alvaro Morata also options.
Karanka repeated however that Madrid were taking the game against Atletico very seriously.
"Tuesday is another game, but tomorrow's has the maximum importance for us," he said. "They are our rival for second place, from the city, and we will send out a team tomorrow with the idea of winning the game. People with any physical problems or who need a rest, will not play. We will see what the best team is for the game tomorrow."
With Madrid supporters focused on a possible historic remontada against Dortmund, Atletico fans have sensed an opportunity for a first derby win since 1999. Karanka reminded reporters of Diego Simeone's side's excellent home record this season (P14 W12 D1 L1 F40 A8) and said Madrid's players must match their opponents' intensity if they were to win the game.
"We must win, we must be at 100%, the same intensity as them," he said. "They have had a great year at home, almost perfect. We know they want to win, as it has been such a long time for them."
Mourinho and his staff had discussed the mistakes made in Dortmund, and talked about how to improve on that performance in the second leg, but for now Atletico was the focus, Karanka said.
"We have talked about the game of the other day, studies the errors to correct," he said. "Now we are just thinking about tomorrow's game. The best way to prepare for Tuesday is to win against Atletico."