Ronaldo fit – but Benzema, Casemiro out against City

Manchester City's Chilean head coach Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester City’s Chilean head coach Manuel Pellegrini

MADRID: Real Madrid Coach Zinedine Zidane said Cristiano Ronaldo “is 100 percent” and will face Manchester City in today’s Champions League semi-final second leg but striker Karim Benzema and midfielder Casemiro will miss the game. Ronaldo has recovered from a hamstring injury which forced him to miss Madrid’s last three games in all competitions and has resumed full training.

But Benzema is yet to recover from a hamstring problem and Casemiro is still out after a knock to the hip sustained in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Real Sociedad. “Cristiano is fine, he is 100 percent. He has trained and will be with us tomorrow, there is no risk,” Zidane told a news conference. “We need a 100 percent Cristiano,” he said. “He’s a different player. His numbers show that and I’m happy he’s with us tomorrow. I’d have liked Karim and Casemiro to be there too, but others will play and that’s that,” added Zidane. “Karim’s situation is different. He still has a problem and we don’t want to take any risks,” he said.
Ronaldo is the top scorer in the Champions League with 16 goals while Benzema has netted 27 times in all competitions this season. Forward Lucas Vazquez replaced Ronaldo in the goalless first leg in Manchester and is expected to fill in for Benzema. “Casemiro does not have a serious injury but he has a bruise and did not train today. We will try and play the same way and put someone else in his position. Casemiro is Casemiro but we have a big squad and there are other players who can do what he does.”

Brazilian midfield anchor Casemiro has grown into one of Madrid’s most important players in the last two months. Real are on their best run of form this season, having won 10 league games in a row. But Zidane, who took charge of the team in January after Rafael Benitez was sacked, said failing to reach the Champions League final in Milan on May 28 would be a “failure”. “Until now we have said we haven’t achieved anything. We are in good form, but our aim is to do everything possible and try and go through. “But it will be very difficult. If we don’t get through, it’ll be a failure.”- Reuters

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