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Cristiano Ronaldo's Absence Will Benefit Multiple Real Madrid Stars

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, leaves the pitch after receiving a direct red card, during their Spanish League soccer match against Athletic Bilbao, at San Mames stadium in Bilbao, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.  (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press
Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo's controversial sending off against Athletic Bilbao this past Sunday (Feb. 2) will undoubtedly go down as a negative among most Madridistas.

Thanks to his off-the-ball shove on Athletic captain Carlos Gurpegi, Ronaldo now faces three games on the sidelines.

The 2013 Ballon d'Or victor is very clearly a key part of this Real Madrid make-up, but there are those who may not be as a glum as others to see the talismanic presence sit some time out while he serves suspension.

With one eye cast on the club's upcoming schedule, we imagine exactly which players stand to benefit somewhat from Ronaldo's absence over the next couple of weeks.

 

Angel di Maria

Angel Fernandez/Associated Press

One of the more obvious players with something to gain from Ronaldo's non-activity is Angel di Maria, who, as many may have suggested he would, has slipped down the pecking order since Gareth Bale's arrival at the Bernabeu.

With Bale undergoing his share of fitness concerns of late, the Argentinian international has managed to start the last six matches under Carlo Ancelotti, but even a healthy Welshman couldn't depose the winger now that Ronaldo is out of the equation, albeit temporarily.

With that being the case, di Maria can look forward to having more of an impact in the starting XI, but even if he does take his chance with both hands, the hierarchy on the wings appears to have been established.

 

Isco

Having missed out on the starting XI in his last four La Liga outings, Isco is currently going through his most barren period in the Spanish capital in terms of playing time.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

The 21-year-old is far from a like-for-like switch with his more offensively orientated team-mate, but a rotation in the squad could mean that an opening is made for Isco to make his return to prominence.

It's playing in behind Benzema that the youngster has asserted most of his influence this term, and if Ancelotti is willing to take a slight hit in how penetrative his line-up is, Isco would be a more reserved alternative.

 

Jese Rodriguez

The Castilla youngster who continues to impress for Los Merengues, Jese is enjoying his most prolific term as a Real Madrid player, scoring three goals and making three assists despite just one of his 13 La Liga appearances being as part of the starting XI, per Transfermarkt.

Though still raw in his potential, it was Jese who opened the scoring against Athletic this weekend, rewarding his manager for showing good faith in his ability.

The Guardian's Sid Lowe has even mooted the idea of Jese travelling to Brazil this summer for the 2014 World Cup:

The 20-year-old is certainly beginning to live up to the expectations put before him, and Ronaldo's suspension may be perfectly timed for the starlet forward to now pounce on first-team matters.

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