Real Madrid boss, Carlo Ancelotti, says the decision on whether to include Cristiano Ronaldo in his starting line-up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final first leg tie will come late.
The Portuguese superstar has missed Real’s previous four matches, including last week’s Copa del Rey victory over arch rivals Barcelona, with a thigh injury but completed Monday’s training session with the rest of the squad ahead of Wednesday’s match at the Estadio Santiago Bernebeu.
With the La Liga giants set to visit the reigning European champions next week, following this weekend’s home game against Ossasuna, the Italian boss was confident on Ronaldo’s fitness but reiterates the world player of the year will yet not be “risked”.
“Cristiano has trained well,” Ancelotti said in his pre-match news conference. “We are confident he will play if he is totally fit but we still have to make the decision after another test tomorrow.
“Ronaldo will not play if there is any risk because this tie will not be decided tomorrow. We might get some advantage but it will all be decided next Tuesday.”
Ronaldo’s teammates, Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Marcelo, also completed the whole training session this morning. Ramos has been struggling with some stiffness in his neck, Bale missed Monday’s training because of a flu and the Brazilian defender, who has been replaced by the brilliant Fabio Coentrao in recent matches, has not played since pulling his hamstring in a training session.
Coentrao will continue in left-back tomorrow, according to the manager.
“Marcelo started training with the team on Monday. He is not 100% ready. Coentrao will start,” added Ancelotti.
Meanwhile German midfielder Sami Khedira could return for the Spanish club in their crucial La Liga run-in after six months out with a cruciate ligament injury.
The 26-year-old is hopeful of featuring in coach Joachim Loew’s squad at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
“Khedira is very close to being match fit; he might play before the end of the season,” Ancelotti said.
Ancelotti hopes to employ the same game plan as the all-inclusive 11-man strategy which won for them the ‘King’s Cup’ last week, at the expense of Barcelona.
“I am hopeful we will play with 11 men. This is not a joke. Against Barcelona, we played as a whole and all 11 players gave their best and helped the team. We were solid. And tomorrow I expect the same,” the Real boss continued.
“Their (Bayern’s) philosophy and game plan are similar to Barcelona’s. We have to be compact in defence.”
He however isn’t bothered about the underdog tag labeled on his side ahead of the last-4 encounter, but urges the ‘Los Blancos’ to be wary of their opponents’ attacking prowess.
Bayern are claiming they are Real’s black beasts- from the Bundesliga club’s promo for the semi-final tie. Ancelotti stressed the fact he has never before lost to the Bavarians exonerates him.
Ancelotti said: “Bayern might be Real’s Black beast, but not mine because I have a good record against them. I’m not surprised about being the underdogs because Bayern just won the Bundesliga a month ago.”