Tue, May 08, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Zidane is hopeful Ronaldo will be fit in time for final

AFP, BARCELONA, Spain

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, center, scores against Barcelona in their La Liga match at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Zinedine Zidane is optimistic Cristiano Ronaldo will be fit for the UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool, despite Real Madrid’s star player going off injured against Barcelona.

Ronaldo on Sunday appeared to sustain a knock to his ankle as he bundled home a 14th-minute equalizer for Real at the Camp Nou.

The striker played on until halftime, but was substituted during the interval.

Real went on to secure a 2-2 draw without Ronaldo, as Gareth Bale struck in the 72nd minute after Lionel Messi’s superb individual effort put 10-man Barca ahead.

Sergi Roberto had been sent off at the end of the first half after Luis Suarez opened the scoring in a pulsating, and controversial, Clasico.

However, Ronaldo’s injury was the key talking point, with the Portuguese star facing a fight to recover in time for the Champions League final against Liverpool on May 26.

“How long he will need I cannot tell you, but for him it is a small problem,” Zidane said. “We’ll see tomorrow after the tests, what we have to do is see the damage done to the ankle. He is a little worried because his ankle is a bit swollen, but he said it was only minor.”

Ronaldo’s injury, coupled with Barcelona avoiding defeat despite playing half the contest with 10 men, meant it was the Catalan side who left the more satisfied.

Ernesto Valverde’s men are now three matches away from becoming the first team to finish a 38-match La Liga season unbeaten.

“It would have hurt to lose to Madrid, or any other team,” Valverde said. “I think we are the only unbeaten team in Europe in the big leagues and that is something that pushes us.”

Bale’s goal was his 15th in 24 games this year and the Welshman will hope it sparks a return to favor ahead of Real’s European climax in Kiev, but he was lucky to still be on the pitch after he stabbed his studs into the back of Samuel Umtiti’s calf moments before Sergi was sent off.

The thrilling nature of the match meant Andres Iniesta’s last Clasico before leaving Barcelona was reduced to a footnote.

Iniesta went off to a standing ovation in the second half.

“I am doing everything possible so I can play these last few games and try to absorb them,” Iniesta told Barca TV. “Three matches remain, they are the last ones, it seems that the end never comes, but we have won the league already and I will try to enjoy every minute.”

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