Cristiano Ronaldo has provided Real Madrid with a major scare at a crucial point of the season, after it was confirmed that the three-time Ballon d’Or winner suffered a thigh strain in Wednesday’s victory over Villarreal. The forward, who had played every minute of Madrid’s La Liga and Champions League campaigns this season, picked up the injury while attempting a bicycle kick against Villarreal. He soon walked off the pitch, despite Real Madrid having already made all three of their substitutions.
Ronaldo will now be forced to sit on the sidelines against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, manager Zinedine Zidane confirmed, with the focus on him being fit to play in Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at Manchester City.
“Playing Cristiano would be a great risk,” Zidane said in his press conference on Friday, reports Marca. “We need to manage his injury and look after him. He knows that our goal is for him to be ready on Tuesday. “He wants to play [on Saturday] but he has to stay home, and even if the final was tomorrow he wouldn't play.”
With the injury being described as “only a tweak,” it is expected that Ronaldo will take his place in the lineup at the Etihad Stadium. However, whether he will be fully fit is another matter. And understandably there have been questions raised since the injury about whether Ronaldo should have been rested during the season to better ensure his fitness for the most crucial period of the campaign.
Speaking on the El Partido des las 12 radio show, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos explained that it was Ronaldo’s desire for individual awards, particularly goal-scoring trophies like Europe’s Golden Shoe and La Liga’s Pichichi, that means he strongly resists being rested. With 31 goals, Ronaldo currently leads the Pichichi race, although Barcelona’s Luis Suárez is now just one goal behind.
“We all know Cristiano,” Ramos said, according to ESPN. “He is super-ambitious, he wants to play every game, to score goals even when he is sleeping. Maybe he should have a different focus, because we all reach an age when it is not bad to rest from time to time. You know the season is long and there are many games.
“I have spoken to him about this, but he does not like to rest when there are individual trophies like the Golden Shoe and others. So it is normal he does not want to rest when he's up against other players who don't rest. I'd prefer not to talk too much about this now—we hope this injury and little issue he has won't stop him playing on Tuesday.”
But Zidane has stressed that Ronaldo’s desire to play every minute of every game is a positive for the team.
“Having a player who always wants to play, to help the team, who always wants more...for a coach that's great. I don't think he is exhausted.”
Real Madrid go into the clash with Rayo Vallecano just a point behind both Barcelona and Atlético Madrid at the top of La Liga with four matches remaining.