Yet another night cut short for Cristiano Ronaldo coincided with Real Madrid losing their grip on this season's La Liga title.
The Portuguese star, who vented his frustration after being substituted in the ninth minute, has failed to complete three of his last five matches, per WhoScored.com. As noted by Dave Wood of the Daily Mail, his latest substitution amplifies a run of niggling injuries for the Ballon d'Or winner:
The Real Madrid star had been pictured holding his left leg and talking to boss Carlo Ancelotti during a training session on Tuesday.
And the decision to risk him just 17 days before Real take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final appeared to have backfired as he limped off against Real Valladolid.
Wood also noted Ronaldo has "recently been troubled by a knee and muscle injury in his left leg," indicating all is not well with Real Madrid's main man. However, Carlo Ancelotti confirmed the problem isn't serious, per Mark Doyle of Goal.com:
"We'll see in the next few days how Cristiano is, but it's not a serious problem," said the former Chelsea boss. "He was not comfortable, though, so I changed him."
While Ronaldo showed a sense of frustration after exiting the pitch against Valladolid—highlighted by a punch on the dugout (as seen below)—it is likely the prolific forward was feeling a whole lot worse once full time arrived.
Real let their 1-0 lead slip as Osorio's header limited Ancelotti's hopes of lifting the domestic title during his debut season. Two draws in three days leave Los Blancos four points off the top with two games left to play, ensuring one of La Liga's most dramatic ever finishes awaits.
Ancelotti's side face Celta Vigo and Espanyol during their last two games. The former are managed by Luis Enrique, the ex-Barcelona star and Barca B coach, who many suggest may take the main job from Gerardo Martino in the summer, per Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC.
Espanyol, of course, are Barcelona's city rivals. Considering the Blaugrana face Elche before hosting leaders Atletico Madrid, the strange situation of rivals potentially helping each other is thrown up. Atletico need four points from their final two games to ensure the title, meaning they may travel to the Camp Nou with just a draw in mind—a result they achieved during April's Champions League clash.
Should Barca and Atletico drop points before meeting, the Catalan side can thrust Real toward the title with a win over their final-day opponents.
While the big three Spanish teams continue to crumble during the final stint of games, Real Madrid are likely to be the most upset with the timing of their capitulation. Four points dropped in two games has left Ancelotti's team with little chance of making up the gap. Sure, the Bernabeu club showed resiliency when levelling terms twice against Valencia, but the last duo of results are nothing short of disastrous.
To make matters worse, both Atletico and Barca have also dropped vital points recently, highlighting Real could have taken control of domestic matters before heading to the Champions League final. Should Ancelotti fail to overcome Diego Simeone's men in Lisbon, it's likely the Italian's first season in charge will be deemed a failure.
Ronaldo has netted 47 goals and contributed 12 assists across 40 appearances in La Liga and Europe, per WhoScored.com. Despite the excellent output of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria, Real continue to miss their main asset when he's absent.
The former Manchester United star's frustration looks set to continue boiling as the season closes. While Ronaldo's fitness remains a priority heading into the Champions League final, the player's emotional responses often sum up Real's general feeling. If he's irritated, this feeling is likely to filter through to his team-mates.
Still, all can be put right with a positive set of results. Things may have gotten too much for Ronaldo at the Jose Zorrilla, but he is still the man who can thrust Real toward a long-awaited treble.
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