Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo is fit to face Valladolid, ending fears the Portuguese superstar may miss Wednesday's crunch game after corners of the Spanish press indicated he could be absent.
As reported by Real Madrid's official Twitter feed, Ancelotti is ready to deploy his key man:
Ronaldo, who netted a stunning last-minute "mule kick" to grab Los Blancos a point against Valencia on Sunday, is set to play a leading role in a fixture that sees Valladolid on the brink of relegation. Only a win will do if Real are to keep their title hopes alive, as Ancelotti's men currently sit five points behind neighbours Atletico Madrid before their game in hand.
Ancelotti's wide-sweeping presser also touched upon intriguing happenings at Barcelona. A television crew from La Sexta captured former player and Barca B coach Luis Enrique welcoming Blaugrana sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta into his home, reported by Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC.
Both Mundo Deportivo and Lluis Mascaro of Sport suggested this was to discuss transfer targets for next season—as Enrique emerges as favourite to replace Gerardo Martino in the summer—reported via Corrigan.
Celta Vigo captain Borja Oubina admitted he eagerly awaits Enrique's explanation after the current manager was spotted with Zubizarreta, per Marca and via Corrigan: "I found out about the meeting from the TV. I have no news about what Luis Enrique said in the club when he came back from meeting with Barcelona. We will see what he says tomorrow when the team returns to training."
Presuming Real win their final two matches of the season, Barcelona can hand their Bernabeu enemies the title with a victory over Atletico on the last day. There's suggestion that many FCB supporters would rather throw the match and see Diego Simeone's team win the title.
Enrique's Celta also face Madrid this weekend, but Ancelotti doesn't believe Enrique's meeting with Zubizarreta had anything to do with this situation, per Real's feed:
Spanish football has fallen victim to "maletines" in the past—monetary rewards offered to clubs for beating title favourites during the late-season schedule—but Atletico president Enrique Cerezo has confirmed this is not something his team will participate in, per Corrigan: "We do not have money for many things, so we do not have money for the 'maletines' -- first, you who have to buy the briefcase, and then put in the money," joked Cerezo. "But no, no, no -- our team is not about that."
Atletico realistically need two wins to confirm the title. Simeone's team can reach a maximum of 94 points but will be overtaken by Barcelona's superior head-to-head record if they lose in Catalonia and Tito's men beat Elche. Real can storm beyond both teams if Barca beat Atletico but must finish ahead of their city rivals on points to emerge triumphant.
Ancelotti will be extremely pleased to confirm Ronaldo's fitness. The Portuguese star's 31 La Liga goals in 29 appearances, per WhoScored.com, ensures Real remain in the hunt for this season's title and adds to what is sure to be one of La Liga's most dramatic finishes ever.
Considering Real face Atletico in the Champions League final, both sides can grab an advantage heading into the Lisbon showdown by becoming Spanish champs. For each of the country's top trio, the season's success will be defined across the next month.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!