Carlo Ancelotti says Cristiano Ronaldo will be rested for Saturday’s La Liga visit to Real Sociedad, but should be fine to play in the Champions League at Borussia Dortmund next Tuesday.
Ronaldo limped off late in Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League quarter-final first leg against Dortmund at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, after earlier scoring his side’s third goal and equalling the competition’s season record of 14 goals.
The Portugal captain has been troubled recently by a tendonitis problem in his left knee, and Ancelotti took the unusual step of approaching reporters present at training on Friday morning to assure them that although he was nowhere to be seen as his teammates were put through their paces, “Cristiano is okay”.
An hour later the Italian coach told his post-training news conference that Madrid’s top scorer would not travel with the squad to San Sebastian for Saturday’s game.
“[Ronaldo] was a little bit tired after the game against Borussia, so we decided to give him a little rest,” Ancelotti said. “He will return to play in the game in the Champions League on Tuesday.
"I have spoken with him and we decided together it was best for him to rest. It's normal he wants to play all the games, but there was no problem. He has played a lot of consecutive games. We just want him to rest, to avoid risks, as we have a lot of important games coming up.”
Ancelotti said he had not yet decided on his lineup for the La Liga clash at the Anoeta, with Angel Di Maria still not fully recovered from the gastroenteritis which saw him miss the midweek win over Dortmund.
“Di Maria has lost some weight and trained alone today,” he said. “He will be in the squad but I do not believe he is going to start the game. We have options to cover for Cristiano, I will decide tomorrow.
"Isco is going to play, [Alvaro] Morata could play, we could move the other forwards around. Tomorrow we will decide the freshest lineup for this game.”
Madrid, who have fallen to third place in the table following recent defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla, cannot afford to slip up again, Ancelotti said.
“Real Sociedad are a difficult team who are playing very well, especially at home,” he added. “We need to be at our best. This is such an important game given the situation in the league.
"La Liga would be more difficult if we do not win tomorrow. So our aim is to win it. It will be a tough game, we must play with intensity, give 100 percent physically and metally and play as a team.”
While confirming that youngster Jese Rodriguez had suffered a setback in his recovery from a recent knee injury, Ancelotti laughed off a suggestion that Madrid were suffering from an ‘evil eye’ curse. But he did say more seriously that the run of injuries was no surprise given the tough calendar which La Liga’s top sides faced at this time of the year.
“I do not believe in the ‘evil eye’,” he said. “The calendar is, I would not say, impossible, but very difficult. I believe it is a miracle that there are still five Spanish teams in Europe. It is incredible considering the calendar.”
In more positive news for Madrid fans Ancelotti said he expected Germany international midfielder Sami Khedira, who has been missing since November with a knee injury, to soon be back in training with his teammates.
“Khedira is doing an individual recovery programme,” Ancelotti said. “In 10 or 15 days he can come back and restart work with us.”