Carlo Ancelotti has said Cristiano Ronaldo is eager to return to action in Real Madrid’s Champions League tie with Schalke.
Ronaldo has missed the last three La Liga games after he was sent off against Athletic Bilbao. He has now served his suspension and will be able to return domestically this weekend.
Ancelotti told his pre-match Press conference that he has no qualms over the Portuguese’s fitness after his spell on the sidelines.
“He’s motivated because he is really looking forward to get back playing,” Ancelotti said.
“He was not happy about not being able to play and he has prepared himself well for this game. Mentally and physically he is in optimum conditions.”
Ancelotti added that Ronaldo will line up in a front three with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, not Jese, because Bale is in form.
The Coach continued by confirming that, as of the time of the Press conference, he had not made every decision regarding his starting XI.
“I need to think which player will be best for this game,” Ancelotti added.
“It’s just a tactical decision for this game. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Schalke go into the game in fourth place in the Bundesliga, 21 points behind leaders Bayern Munich.
Ancelotti is expecting die Knappen to provide stern opposition.
“It’s going to be a match played with great intensity,” Ancelotti predicted.
“Schalke will be using everything in their armoury to win, I’ve no doubt about that. They are a quality outfit and are well organized and to beat them, we’ll have to give our best.
“They are a very well-organized side with young players who have a lot of quality. We’ll see if [Max] Meyer or [Julian] Draxler plays tomorrow.
They also have experienced players like [Kevin Prince] Boateng and [Klass-Jan] Huntelaar.
“They may not be a spectacular side but they are solid and have a good mix of experience and youth. They also have a good system in defence.”
Ancelotti also rejected the suggestion that the game will boil down to an individual battle between Ronaldo and Huntelaar.
“It’s not an individual duel, this is a game of football – between two teams. Cristiano will be playing on one side and Huntelaar for Schalke.
“He is a very good striker and is dangerous in and around the box, we’ll need to be careful with him.”
Madrid have fallen at the semi-final stage in recent seasons but rather than condemn his predecessors for not reaching the Champions League final – or winning the tournament outright – Ancelotti insisted getting to the semi-finals was an achievement in itself.
“Reaching the semi-finals isn't easy and if you do make it to the semis, it means that you must have done something right,” Ancelotti countered.
“I don't know what went wrong but we are determined to improve on what the team did last season. But making the semi-finals three years on the trot isn't easy to do.
“I won’t be changing anything. I'm here to do my best in every competition,” he continued.
“Everyone knows the Champions League is the best competition in the world- and the most difficult. You need everything to win it – including luck.
“We need to give our maximum in every game. Every game you play is dangerous. We don’t want this good moment of form we’re in to end just yet and we prepare for all of our games in the same way.”