MADRID, April 21 – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane admitted he should have rested star Cristiano Ronaldo more in recent weeks after he limped off in Real’s 3-0 win over Villarreal on Wednesday.
Ronaldo was seen holding his right hamstring before leaving the field in the closing minutes, putting at risk his presence in Madrid’s Champions League semi-final, first leg at Manchester City next week.
Zidane is confident the three-time World Player of the Year will be fit to face the English side, but recognised he has to take more care of the Portuguese, who had played all but one minute of Madrid’s previous 43 La Liga and Champions League games.
“He got a frIght, but I don’t think it is anything serious,” said Zidane.
“We will see tomorrow (Thursday) what he has.
“I am calmer now than when I saw him leave the pitch.
“For a coach when you have a player like Cristiano sometimes it is necessary for him to not play a game or not finish a match.”
However, there was better news on the injury front for Zidane as he confirmed that Gareth Bale should be fit for the trip to Rayo Vallecano on Saturday after missing the visit of Villarreal with a muscle problem
“Hopefully he will train with us tomorrow and be ready for the game on Saturday,” added the Frenchman.
An eighth consecutive La Liga victory kept Real a point behind leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who both also won on Wednesday, with four games of the La Liga season remaining.
Barcelona bounced back in dramatic fashion from three consecutive league defeats for the first time in 13 years with an 8-0 thrashing of Deportivo la Coruna thanks to four goals and three assists from Luis Suarez.
“We had to win playing the way we know how and you are happier when you win playing like this,” Suarez told Spanish TV station Movistar+.
– ‘Nothing is easy’ –
“We had a lot of chances and scored lots of goals.
“Our run shows people that nothing is easy. You have to play the games.
“Some people thought the league was won. We are aware that it is still in our hands and we will work as we have to.”
Under-fire Barca boss Luis Enrique had steadfastly defended his players’ performance in a 2-1 defeat on Sunday to Valencia and believes they finally got the luck they deserved in Galicia as Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi, Marc Bartra and Neymar were also on target.
“Football is special and these things happen,” said Enrique.
“Just like against Valencia, we played very well but this time everything went in. Against Valencia I think we had more chances, but we didn’t finish them.
“We leave here with a spectacular result and the challenge we have ahead of us is marvellous.”
If Barca win all four remaining games they will be guaranteed a 24th title thanks to their superior head-to-head record against Atletico.
However, Atletico have the easier run-in with three of their remaining four at home.
Fernando Torres continued his fine form by scoring for the fifth consecutive game to keep Atletico level on points with Barca with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao.
“What Barcelona did is good for them, but all that matters to us is winning and giving our best in every game,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.
However, victory also came at a cost for Simeone’s men as inspirational central defender Diego Godin also suffered the recurrence of a hamstring problem and is now a serious doubt for their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich.