Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says he will not start Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich on Wednesday if there is any risk of the World Player of the Year aggravating a hamstring injury.
The Portuguese has missed Real’s last four games due to the problem, but has returned to full training ahead of the clash with the European champions and is expected to take his place in Ancelotti’s starting line-up.
“Cristiano has trained normally today and has trained well in the past few days. Tomorrow we will have another test with him to be sure and then we will take a decision,” Ancelotti told his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“He will play if everyone can be assured that he can play without any problem. We are confident at the moment, but the decision will be taken tomorrow.
“If there is a risk of a recurrence of the injury he will not play because we need to think that this is a tie of two games and will not be decided tomorrow. The decisive match in the tie will come next Tuesday.”
In Ronaldo’s absence, Gareth Bale has come to the fore as the Welshman has struck three times in the last four games, including a sensational solo run and finish to win the Copa del Rey for Real against Barcelona last week.
Bale also overcame flu-like symptoms to train on Tuesday and Ancelotti believes he is enjoying his best run of form since Los Blancos paid a reported world record fee to bring him to Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur last year.
“He is very happy at the moment. Yesterday he had a small problem, but today he was fine and has the confidence and enthusiasm the whole team has at the moment.
“After scoring a goal like that against Barcelona in a final it is normal that he is full of confidence.
“At the start of the season he had a problem with injuries but once he began to train everything has gone well. He has played very well and scored a lot of goals, but he still wants to improve for next season.”
Madrid will come up against a familiar foe on the Bayern bench as former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola will put his unbeaten record at the Santiago Bernabeu as a coach on the line on Wednesday.
Comparisons have been drawn between Guardiola’s teams at Barca and Bayern due to their relentless success and ability to dominate possession of the ball.
However, rather than sit back and hit Bayern on the counter-attack, Ancelotti wants Madrid to impose their own style of play on the German champions.
“Barcelona and Bayern are different, but the philosophy Guardiola has imposed is the same.
“We need to work hard, be compact in defence and have a control of the game to show our quality. We are not planning on trying to stop the other team, but in playing our game and showing our qualities on the pitch.”
Ancelotti also confirmed that despite Brazilian international Marcelo’s return to full fitness, Fabio Coentrao will start at left-back after a fine display against Barcelona last week.
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