Real Madrid Coach Carlo Ancelotti says his decision to keep Cristiano Ronaldo out of yesterday’s match with Espanyol was to avoid unnecessary risks.
The Portuguese was set to face the Catalan side but, following the warm-up ahead of the game, he was withdrawn with next Saturday’s Champions League final against Atletico Madrid in mind.
Speaking at his post-match Press conference after Los Blancos 3-1 victory at the Bernabeu, the Italian tactician explained his thinking and also said he was confident Karim Benzema would be fit to face the Rojiblancos.
“Cristiano wasn’t comfortable during the warm up so we didn’t take any risks,” Ancelotti told the assembled reporters. “We did a test and we think he has a strain.
“We are calm because we think he can play in the final. Benzema has a strained hamstring and he shouldn’t be a doubt for the final.
“Cristiano hasn’t played in the most recent matches. Yesterday he trained normally and I am very confident. Yesterday he was comfortable and wanted to play.
“However, after the warm up he wasn’t comfortable and we decided to take him out of the match to avoid risks.
“The problem is that when you have a final you can’t take risks. Had this been our last match, he would have played.
“Di Mario, Carvajal, Khedira and Illaramendi all played well. Now we need to think about the next game.
“Pepe’s situation has improved. Tomorrow he will start working on the pitch. Up until now he has been doing gym work. Tomorrow he will start running and we are confident he can play.
“Illarra has a chance of playing. There is one week left and I need to decide the best line-up. After a dip in form I am happy with the performances.
“I want all the team to train normally, but the most important thing is that all the players, other than Alonso and Jese, are ready to play.
“I thought the match [with Espanyol] would lack intensity. It was a normal end of season game because our opponents didn’t need the points either.”