Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Wednesday's Copa del Rey final against Barcelona in Valencia due to his current knee and thigh issues.
Ronaldo has not played since the Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Borussia Dortmund on April 2 and, with the club issuing few details on the nature of the problem, the vacuum has been filled with media speculation that he has both a tendinitis problem in his left knee and a tear in his left thigh and could be out for several weeks.
Addressing the media at his prematch news conference on Tuesday, Ancelotti confirmed he will not feature on Wednesday, saying: “Cristiano Ronaldo will not be there. We know that since this morning.
“Cristiano is not available to play as we do not want to take risks as we have other important games this season. He will train tomorrow and then travel with the squad to Valencia. But we have many players and this team has always reacted well to absences, and we will do it again tomorrow.”
Ancelotti refused to say whether the attack-minded Isco or more defensive Asier Illarramendi would replace Ronaldo in the starting lineup for the final at Mestalla.
“I have decided [which player will start] but I am not going to say it,” he said. “Cristiano’s absence makes everyone more motivated. We have played very well in games he’s missed, worked more, and run more. Tomorrow there will be no problem in terms of motivating the players -- they are very excited about the game. I am sure we have prepared very well and are going to play very well tomorrow.”
El Pais, among other newspapers, suggested that there have been disagreements between Madrid’s medical staff and Ronaldo’s camp over the extent and treatment of the player’s injuries. He is also now said to be a real doubt for next Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at home to Bayern Munich.
Ancelotti rejected a question that suggested the 29-year-old could have been rested earlier in the season to protect him from injuries now.
“Cristiano did not rest because he did not need to,” he said. “There was no situation we saw that showed a tired player. If he was tired, he would not have played. He picked up a problem that many players get at this stage of the season. We were careful with him, the same as with other players.”
Ancelotti said he hoped his team play in a similar manner to last month’s 4-3 La Liga defeat to Barcelona but cut out the defensive errors that cost them at the end of that game.
“In the second game at the Bernabeu we played very well, we were winning, and made some small errors,” he said. “We must be focused for the whole game. I was satisfied with a big part of how we played in that game. We must do it for 90 minutes. Two of the four goals were penalties; we made defensive errors. We have worked on avoiding those tomorrow.”
Sergio Ramos missed Saturday’s 4-0 La Liga win over Almeria with a shoulder muscle issue, but has returned to full training with his teammates and is now expected to start alongside Pepe at centre-back, with Raphael Varane returning to the bench.