Manuel Pellegrini wonders if a fully fit Cristiano Ronaldo could have ‘changed history’ when he was Real Madrid Coach in 2009.
Pellegrini had only a year at Santiago Bernabeu and finished with 96 points, a record, but still beaten by Barcelona on 99, the Chilean lamenting the difference Ronaldo could have made if he stayed injury free.
“I had the misfortune of being without him for a month-and-a-half. He returned just before the match we played against Barcelona at Camp Nou. The doctor made me take him off after an hour, because he couldn’t play more than that after two months out. It was 0-0 and maybe, with 30 more minutes of Ronaldo, history would have changed,” Pellegrini recalled in an interview with AS, before touching on Ronaldo’s first leg absence.
“It would be absurd to deny that Madrid without Ronaldo isn’t the same as Madrid with him. For the number of goals, and his influence, in the past six years. A lot of importance was given to Cristiano not playing against us, but Karim Benzema was off at half time.
“And it’s ignored that David Silva only played half the game and Yaya Toure didn’t play, which are equivalent absences. David gives us creativity. His 45 minutes coincided with the very best of our team. But neither Madrid nor City can depend on one player.”
Ronaldo’s involvement in the return remains in the air, as does Benzema’s, but Pellegrini warned of Madrid’s other weapons.
“It would be a mistake to think only based on those two and whether or not they play. I think a forward line of [Gareth] Bale with Isco or James Rodriguez would be extremely worrying,” he noted.
“You have to prepare your team regardless of names and then put the finishing touches according to what you know.”