Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane brushed aside fitness concerns over top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo and intimated that the two-time Ballon d’Or winner will be thrust into battle against Manchester City on Tuesday.
Former Manchester United attacker Ronaldo, who has netted 47 goals this season, emerged as a doubt for their Champions League semi-final clash after a thigh injury ruled him out of Saturday’s La Liga match with Rayo Vallecano.
Similar fears hovered over striker Karim Benzema after he departed the Vallecano showdown before half time with a leg injury, although Zidane has declared the attacking duo fully fit.
“I think they are going to be 100 per cent,” said Zidane. “They are fine today, they’ve recovered well. They’re players who look after themselves. My idea is that they are both going to be fit to play.”
Real suffered a scare during their passage to the semi-final after losing 2-0 to mid-table Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg in the first leg before turning the tide in the second – a match which saw Ronaldo take his Champions League goal tally to 93.
Zidane is acutely aware of the attacking threat posed by City and is conscious that a repeat of the defensive vulnerability on show against Wolfsburg in Germany will be potentially perilous to their pursuit of an 11th European crown.
“You can prepare all you want for a big game but the game can turn out totally different than how you envisaged,” added Zidane. “The opponent is a great side. If you leave City space, they can hurt you in that space. The players get between the lines well. Tomorrow we will try to stop them hurting us in those areas.
“We’ve got to be strong defensively because we know we’re going to be put under pressure. If we can be strong I think we’ll get the chance to unleash our own weapons in attack.”