Cristiano Ronaldo has been passed fit for the second leg of Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final against Manchester City, coach Zinedine Zidane has announced.
The former Manchester United forward has missed Real’s last three games – including the goalless draw in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium last week – with a thigh injury.
But the Portuguese has played a full part in training ahead of Wednesday’s second clash at the Bernabeu and Zidane says he is ready to return.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Zidane said: “Cristiano is okay. He is 100 per cent. He trained this morning and he will be there tomorrow.”
Zidane delivered less optimistic news about two other key players as he confirmed both forward Karim Benzema and defensive midfielder Casemiro would miss out.
Benzema was withdrawn at half-time in Manchester with a hamstring injury and Casemiro has since suffered a blow to the hip.
Zidane said: “Karim and Case are different. Karim still had a doubt and we don’t want to risk it, and the same goes for Case. It is not an injury, just a bit of a problem.
“But we have another squad list and so everybody else can play.”
Zidane insisted there was no risk attached to playing Ronaldo, who has struck 16 times in 10 appearances in the Champions League this season, and is the competition’s record goalscorer.
The Frenchman said: “The whole week, little by little, Ronaldo has been recovering. That’s how it is with this player. He’s very quick, he looks after himself a lot, and tomorrow he will be 100 per cent.”
Real started slowly in the first leg and only came strong in the latter stages, when they twice tested City goalkeeper Joe Hart and hit the woodwork.
Zidane hopes they can play with high intensity for the full game this time.
He said: “We hope we can have 90 minutes like in the second half and especially score, which is the most important thing in football.
“We have to apply all our focus for a Champions League semi-final but at the same time we have an opponent we know is going to make it difficult.”
There was what once would have seemed an unlikely moment at the press conference as Zidane was asked for his thoughts on Leicester City, the new Barclays Premier League champions.
The World Cup winner smiled and said: “I think they have had a wonderful season. (Claudio) Ranieri, their coach, did a wonderful job. I am really happy for them.
“It is the first time they are champions – it is something to be admired very much. For me it is no miracle – it is what this team deserves.”