After missing the weekend’s comprehensive 4-0 win over Real Sociedad at the Anoeta, Cristiano Ronaldo has travelled with the Real Madrid squad to Germany for the Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, per Spanish paper AS.
A knee injury has plagued Ronaldo in recent weeks and was getting progressively worse, so it was deemed best for the Ballon d’Or winner to take a rest on Saturday.
Madrid coped without his 28 league goals to see off Sociedad, but they may not want to risk being without him at the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday night. Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in just eight Champions League appearances this season; no one has scored more than that in one single campaign in the competition.
However, with a 3-0 lead following the first leg at the Bernabeu, Carlo Ancelotti may opt to leave his No. 7 on the bench. Marca don’t think that will be the case, though: "Ancelotti has decided to play [Ronaldo] at the Signal Iduna Park stadium, opting for the most effective team possible to ensure the club's qualification to the semifinals."
Los Blancos host Almeria at the weekend, so perhaps their Italian coach sees that as a better opportunity to rest players ahead of the Copa del Rey final on April 16.
That would mean Ronaldo returns to the side at the expense of Isco, lining up alongside Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in what has been Madrid’s regular front three throughout the season.
Incidentally Dortmund’s home ground is the last place where Madrid lost a Champions Legaue match, so there may be few risks taken. They lost 4-1 there in last year’s semifinal but haven’t been beaten in 10 European games since that night, winning nine and drawing one.
Another Portuguese international who missed the win over Real Sociedad has also been included in the squad for Tuesday night’s game at the venue where Madrid’s La Decima hopes were derailed last year.
Fabio Coentrao, who was replaced by Nacho Fernandez at Anoeta, appears to have recovered from a muscle strain and is likely to start at left-back, per Marca.
In the continued absence of Alvaro Arbeloa, Dani Carvajal will continue at right-back, while the experience and form of Pepe and Sergio Ramos should see the pair named as Ancelotti’s central defenders.
Iker Casillas, Madrid’s cup goalkeeper, will return in place of Diego Lopez.
Angel Di Maria, who appeared from the bench at the weekend, looks to have recovered from a bug and should be included from the start at the expense of Asier Illarramendi.
Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso will presumably join forces with Di Maria to form a three-man midfield, with Alonso perhaps being rested at the weekend after being involved in all of the club’s recent fixtures.
Young midfielder Jose Rodriguez is once again included in the squad, but despite benefiting from the experience he is unlikely to be involved in the match.
Predicted Real Madrid XI: Iker Casillas; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao; Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo