Madrid taking no chances with Ronaldo
Ronaldo back in training but will not be risked against Bayern if doubts over fitness remain
Cristiano Ronaldo is the centre of attention during Real Madrid training at the Valdebebas training ground ahead of the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insists he will not risk playing Cristiano Ronaldo against Bayern Munich in their first-leg of their Champions League semi-final tie if the forward has not fully recovered from injury.
The prolific Portuguese has not played any competitive football since Madrid’s 3-0 quarter-final first-leg win over Borussia Dortmund on April 2nd, coming off in the 80th minute of that match with an injury to his left knee.
The forward had to miss the return leg in Dortmund and last week’s Copa del Rey final win due to a subsequent hamstring problem, but returned to full training on Monday.
Last year Barcelona fielded Lionel Messi against Bayern in a Champions League semi-final when the Argentinian had not fully recovered from a hamstring problem, but Ancelotti vowed not to take any chances with Ronaldo, who is the top scorer in this season’s competition with 14 goals in nine matches.
“Cristiano trained normally today, he’s trained well in the last few days and tomorrow he’s going to have more tests and then we’ll make our decision,” Ancelotti said this afternoon.
“If everyone is is certain he can play without any problems at all, then of course he will play. I am confident he will play, but we’re going to make the decision tomorrow.”
The Italian coach hinted he might opt against starting Ronaldo at the Bernabeu, with next week’s return game at the Allianz Arena in mind.
He added: “If there’s any risk of a relapse he won’t play. We have to remember that this tie is not going to be decided tomorrow. We may be able to gain an advantage from the home leg, but the really decisive game is next Tuesday in Munich.”
Midfielder Xabi Alonso added: “Cristiano will play if he’s 100 per cent fit, that is a decision he, the medical staff and the coach will take.
“We need him to play because he’s vital for the team. He gives us explosive play and an ability to create chances and score goals, he’s a fundamental player. But if he doesn’t play the team can still perform as we saw in the Copa del Rey final.”
If Ronaldo does not make it, Gareth Bale could start on the left side of attack, a position he excelled in during the 2-1 cup final win against Barcelona, scoring the decisive goal.
Alonso said his team-mates were delighted for the former Tottenham player.
“Even before he scored that goal, Gareth has always been very valued by all of us,” the former Liverpool man said. “He’s had to adapt to a new country, a new league and a new team, he’s playing at a very high level and he showed that last week. We are very happy with him and everything he is doing for the team.”
Bayern knocked Madrid out of the Champions League semi-finals on penalties two years ago, but Alonso rubbished the suggestion the capital club go into Wednesday’s game as underdogs.
“I don’t think Real Madrid are victims, you can never say that,” he said.
“Bayern are a great team and we are in great form at the moment and so I don’t think either team are favourites. The role of favourite doesn’t interest us anyway, it’s something created by the media and has no effect on the players in the team.”