Sport Soccer

Friday 23 March 2018

Mourinho may keep Ronaldo in reserve for El Clasico

Jamie Holland

JOSE MOURINHO is considering leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the substitutes' bench for today's Clasico against Barcelona at the Bernabeu as a precaution ahead of Tuesday's Champions League showdown with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Kaka revealed the players had not been told who would play, but was excited about the prospect of facing Barcelona, as it would give him the chance to prove his worth in a big match.

Barca midfielder Xavi has been ruled with a hamstring injury he suffered in Real's Copa de Rey victory on Tuesday and the Spanish international is struggling to recover in time for the Champions League showdown against Milan on March 12 when the Catalan giants must overcome a 2-0 deficit from the first leg.

Eric Abidal, who has not played a competitive match for over a year following a liver transplant, could return to the Barcelona squad.

Lionel Messi has admitted the Barcelona players are struggling to come to terms with the defeat to Madrid in the Copa del Rey, which came just six days after their defeat at the San Siro.

"We are not used to dealing with a situation like the one we are going through at the moment," he said.

However, the Argentinian believes the team will overcome their current troubles, adding: "I have a lot of faith that this group will keep moving forward."

Real Madrid v Barcelona,

Deferred coverage, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

Irish Independent

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