Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were both included in coach Zinedine Zidane’s squad for their Champions League semi-final, first leg at Manchester City today despite fitness doubts. Three-time World Player of the Year Ronaldo missed Saturday’s 3-2 win at Rayo Vallecano with a minor thigh injury, but is expected to start on his return to Manchester, where he spent six years with Manchester United between 2003 and 2009.
Benzema is a bigger doubt after limping off with a knee injury before half-time at Rayo. Right-back Dani Carvajal also returns after two games out as Zidane has called-up all 23 available players for the trip to the Etihad.
City midfielder Yaya Toure is expected to miss out, manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed yesterday. The Ivorian did not take part in City’s final pre-match training session yesterday after picking up a muscular injury towards the end of Sunday’s 4-0 Premier League win over Stoke City. “I think he’s going to be out,” Pellegrini said. “He hasn’t recovered from a muscle injury.”
With Toure likely to miss out, Brazilians Fernando and Fernandinho are expected to be paired together in central midfield. “The two Brazilian lads have played well when they have played together, and in Europe as well,” Pellegrini said. “For example against PSG (in the quarter-finals). I’m very confident in what they can provide.”
Captain Vincent Kompany, who has struggled with calf injuries this season, was able to train, having been rested for the victory against Stoke. While Real Madrid are chasing an 11th European Cup, City are appearing in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time.
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